Posts

Facial Recognition, Privacy

Facebook and Facial Recognition? A Bad Combination!

If we have learned anything over the years, social media platforms, and particularly Facebook have undertaken many initiates that are less than ethical. With the latest news that most people will start to see facial recognition options in their Facebook platform today, privacy advocates are sounding alarms. And for good reason! What is missing is the information needed for an informed public on this topic. Most Facebook users will not realize the ramifications of letting Facebook use facial recognition.

Before looking at what this means now, we need to explore a bit of history. Let’s take a look back at some of Facebook’s less than stellar moments:

  • Back in 2014 it became known that Facebook conducted research on approximately 700,000 users without their knowledge. The research was intended to learn how users would react – emotionally – to either all positive or all negative information on their feeds. As someone who both teaches and also conducts research, this is a fundamental ethical breach of research guidelines. When conducting research, there is an ethical requirement to obtain Informed Consent. As a part of this, participants know that they are involved in a research project, what the research is, how it will be used and they can withdraw at any time, etc. Facebook ignored this and proceeded without any Informed Consent. Thus, the impacts on people could have been detrimental to their mental health with no plan to mitigate.
  • Increasingly since the 2016 US federal election, Facebook has come under fire for its lack of process, policies and actions that easily enabled foreign third parties to directly impact the election.
  • And while Zuckerberg testified before the US Congress, which looked as comfortable for him as getting your teeth pulled without lidocaine, he nonetheless showed up. In Canada however, Facebook was a no-show to discuss privacy breach issues of Canadian citizens.
  • In July 2019, Facebook was levied a $5 billion fine to settle a US Federal Trade Commission data privacy probe. 
  • And just last month, the US federal appeals court rejected Facebook’s effort to undo a 2015 class-action lawsuit claiming that it illegally collected and stored biometric data for millions of users without their consent in Illinois. 

In looking at just these few examples, any reasonable person would question why Facebook would need and/or want to collect facial recognition data. And, make no mistake. They are “collecting” facial recognition data. 

We have already seen how some governments are using facial recognition data to create states of surveillance. Think of China for one. The United Kingdom is another jurisdiction that has delved into facial recognition and, as we have seen, the results in many cases proved to be wrong in 98 percent of the time.

So, while there could be applications for national security, once there is proven technology, and of course, there are laws established to protect citizens, I have to question what possible need is there for Facebook to implement facial recognition in its platform. We have an established pattern for Facebook not adhering to laws and collecting information and using information in less than ethical ways. 

Facial recognition, when in the wrong hands, can be used in a variety of harmful ways. The mere fact that an individual does not have control over his or her image is alarming. If in the wrong hands’, could images potentially be used in the creation of deep fake videos or other images? Such deep fakes could show a person committing a crime, stating information against a government – which in some countries could result in detention or worse – or even stating slanderous comments against a person, an employer, etc. All of which could have negative impacts as the person then has to prove that they were not the person captured in a video. Now many would argue that you don’t store biometric data with images such as drivers’ licences, etc. That is nice in theory, but as we have seen with Facebook, what should happen, doesn’t always happen. So yes, it could happen.

And perhaps more disturbingly is that Facebook has stored our digitized face since we started using it – without our permission. (This was part of the Illinois lawsuit.) The question is…to what end? Some argue that the market for facial recognition is poised to reach $9.6 by 2022. There is definitely money to be made for Facebook. And, with the technology that they are working on, it won’t be just your face. It will be your posture, the way you walk and possibly even how you dress that will make you identifiable. 

As an individual, the implications are deeply concerning. As most of live in societies where privacy is a human right, Facebook – and others – will be using facial recognition to absolutely remove this human right. And sadly, most of us don’t even realize that this is happening. When we do, it will be too late.

If like me, you have already scaled back on using Facebook, the implementation of facial recognition has definitely been the tipping point to back away completely.

Now the question is, will this be a tipping point for you?

Heather MacLean, Privacy

Six Things to Do When Your Bank Has Been Hacked

Each day we hear about different companies that have experienced a hack or data breach. Somehow however, when we learn it is was bank that was hacked, it is quite different. Many more of us become very concerned for our privacy and more importantly, we become extremely concerned about our financial security. Rightly so. Our entire lives are now digital and at risk.

While we can’t turn back the clock and we can certainly hope that we won’t get a notification from our bank that we were one of the victims. We want to be one of those who weren’t impacted. If however, we are not so lucky there are some steps that can be taken to lessen the impact. Here are six things you can do immediately when your bank has been hacked:

  1. Update all passwords and security questions.
  2. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
  3. If you use a password manager, maybe consider not using it for your banking. Keep your banking passwords separate and distinct.
  4. Be diligent in checking your online statements – both credit cards and banking and immediately report abnormalities to your provider.
  5. When monitoring your accounts, don’t just look for large purchase that you don’t recognize. Look for any abnormality. You could have a serious of purchases under $20.
  6. Monitor your credit rating. If your bank was breached, ask for credit monitoring and protection.

These are just six things that you can do immediately. If you are still worried about your privacy, contact us for more detail on how you can implement other privacy measures.

BOOK REVIEW: Have You Been Hacked Yet?

There is no shortage of books on the market about cybersecurity. Some detail cyberattacks. Some detail the history of cybersecurity or cyber warfare. And of course, there are more and more books emerging on how to protect yourself online.

This latest book review is on Have You Been Hacked Yet? By Dr. Natalia Stakhanova.  Dr. Stakhanova is by no means a slouch when it comes to cybersecurity. In addition to being an Assistant Professor at the University of New Brunswick, which has a stellar and robust history in cybersecurity, Dr. Stakhanova is the New Brunswick Innovation Research Chair in Cyber Security. In her spare time she is also the co-founder and CEO of CyberLaunch Academy, an initiative focused on promoting science and technology for children.

From the book’s synopsis:

“….this book gives a gentle introduction into the practical aspects of your daily security. It introduces the most common risks associated with the daily use of modern computing technology. Building on that, the book articulates the importance of, and demonstrates the use of, various types of defence strategies to protect you as a user.”

And now the review:

From first glance at the Table of Contents, I feel that most people would not be intimidated by reading this book. For the most part, the language is straightforward. It covers all the things that one would want to learn about in order to help protect their families and themselves.

When getting into the content, Dr. Stakhanova explains things clearly and easily. I particularly like that she covers off just how easy it is for someone to fall victim to cybercrime. She makes it easy to understand that these criminals play on our emotions, our concern for others and our need to help to scam us. So many people are embarrassed to admit that they have fallen victim that we often don’t have a true picture of just how many people have been scammed.

One of my favourite chapters has got to be Chapter 2. Dr. Stakhanova explains what our digital valuables are and why we should protect them. It is a very common sense perspective, but we often don’t take the time to stop and think about it this way.

I also appreciate the time she has taken to focus on social engineering. I know far too many people who have succumbed to social engineering and/or those who fail to see the concerns around how much information they are sharing online. I hope that this helps change behaviour.

There is, of course, lots of other good information in the book. It is the first edition and I know that Dr. Stakhanova will be making some edits to update some information and fix a few “bugs” shall we say.

So, who is this book for? It is definitely a book for those who know they should be more careful but don’t know what they should be doing about it. It’s a book for those who want to better understand how to protect and educate their children. It’s a great resource for consumers that want to learn how to be “safe” or “safer” online. There are two people in my life that I will be giving this book to immediately.

Want to talk more about cybersecurity, privacy and how you can be protected? Connect with us.

TaylorMade Solutions

Six Tips for Consumers to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Cybercrime

I believe that information is power. I know that every person that uses the internet could become a victim of cybercrime. Cybercriminals are becoming much, much better at duping us and getting us to willingly give up our credit card numbers. So, as I started out with, knowledge is power and I want to offer up the following six tips to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime.

But before I give the tips, let me give an overview of what some of us are being victimized by. And, I want to stress that if you have been a victim, you are not alone. In fact, according to the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report, 10 million Canadians were affected by cybercrime last year. And the cost of this cybercrime? $1.8 billion Canadian dollars…this is not small change be any means.

So, how were criminals able to get this amount of money from people? Here are a few ways:

  1. Fake tech support via computer pop-ups:

Consumers accessing insecure sites often get pop-ups that tell you that you have a virus, that your computer has been compromised, or even that you have committed some fraudulent activity.  Of course you have not, but these criminals are playing on your fear, emotion and the hopes that you don’t have the technical savvy to realize this is a scam.

So, how can you tell that the site is not secure? One way is to look at the url or web address.

You need to see the secure lock as you see on our website. This is a SECURE site:

TaylorMade Solutions

 

 

This is an insecure site:

  TaylorMade SolutionsTaylorMade Solutions

2. Fake Tech support via phone calls:

If you have been an unfortunate victim of a pop-up scam, and gave your credit card, and/or control of your computer over to the scammers, they could wait a few months and then call pretending to be someone from Microsoft, Google, Norton, ….or any vendor really.  Your information my have been released on the Dark Web too, which makes you an interesting target for criminals. The callers will indicate that there is suspicious behaviour with your computer and they can help you fix it.

The fact is that vendors cannot legally see anything that is happening with your computer. If someone is claiming that they can see what is going in with your computer, either they are lying or they have some sort illegal access…or they are a member of the CIA, FBI, CSIS, MI5 or some other spy agency.

So, if you don’t think a member of a spy agency is watching you…it’s a scam. Hang up. Don’t ever, ever, ever give control of your computer over to a caller. Don’t ever, ever, ever give any credit card information to someone claiming they can fix your computer who has called YOU (or if there is a popup on your computer).

3. Fake Credit Card Breach:

If someone calls claiming to be from your credit card company stating the your card has been used inappropriately, never give any information. The scam is that they will ask for your birthdate, your card number and some other details, maybe even your PIN or the SVC on the back of the card. Never. I repeat. Never give this information. Instead hangup and call the number YOU have for your credit card company and ask to validate a call that just came in. Don’t call the number that the potential scammer gave you. That’s how they get you.

So, what can you do? Here are Six simple tips:

  1. Don’t fall for computer pop-ups. If they appear, either get off the site, or disconnect from internet or shut down your computer or all of these options… Always look and use secure sites. Look for the https: and the lock symbol as shown above.
  2. If you get a call from someone claiming to be tech support, hang-up.
  3. Never give access to someone to remotely control your computer..NEVER.
  4. Never give your credit card information to someone who claims to be helping you.
  5. Remember that vendors, be it Microsoft, Norton, your service provider, etc. cannot see that something “suspicious” is happening with your computer. If someone claims that, they are lying to you.
  6. Keep your antivirus software updated, but don’t think that will protect you from everything. You need to be vigilant and follow 1-5 above.

But what happens if one of this very clever scammers succeeds… and by the way, you would not be alone. Remember that approximately 10 million Canadians were victim to cybercrime in 2017. Here are some things you must do:

  1. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately, if you gave your information, to advise them of what has happened.
  2. Never call the “company” again. Doing so tips them off and thwarts police investigation.
  3. Report the scam to your local police.
  4. If you gave access to your computer, ALWAYS take your computer to a professional who can clean your computer and remove viruses, malware and/or other software installed by the criminal. Not doing so could mean that the criminal installed malicious software that can record your keystrokes to get your sensitive information, or could be a virus or something else that will harm you and your data.

Being on line is no different than protecting yourself in your home. You lock the doors and you don’t let strangers in. Do the same for your online safety.

Want to know more? Contact us for more details.

Intel, Heather-Anne MacLean

Intel’s Security Flaw Puts Spotlight on Security by Design

Well, 2018 is starting off with a significant cybersecurity and privacy hit. Intel Corporation just confirmed Wednesday of this week that flaws in the Intel processor could leave computers – around the world – open to vulnerabilities. As the largest chipmaker in the world, computers – and not just PCs – are now exposed, and this quite frankly puts a spotlight on security by design.

Security by design is something that consumers should be concerned about. We should demand it actually. But, what is security by design? Using a simple definition from TechTarget, it is “an approach to software and hardware development that seeks to make systems as free of vulnerabilities and impervious to attack as possible through such measures as continuous testing, authentication safeguards and adherence to best programming practices.” In addition to security by design, privacy by design should also be included and with the previous definition, privacy by design should be pretty easy to figure out.

Security and privacy by design are two minimum standards that consumers should be asking about and confirming that they are being fully implemented by the companies from whom they purchase products. After all, once a consumer is compromised the level of damage can range from embarrassing to fully destroying one’s life. For example, it could be someone getting access to your social media and taking it over and posting pornography. Or, it could be someone getting access to all your credit card information and then using the information to spoof you and to get many more credit cards in your name and thus ruining your credit and leaving you with thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of debt. It can also mean someone getting access to all your personal information, including all your health records and in addition to getting credit cards in your name, posting all your medical history online and on your own social media for the whole world to see.

Security and privacy by design are not new. People have been talking about these principles for years; but the kicker is that there is no legislated requirement to ensure that companies adopt these principles and build them into their standards and operations.

This Intel discovery should really be a warning and wake-up call globally. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming more and more entrenched in our daily lives, security by design and privacy by design must become the standard and be baked-in at the start of the design process rather than just emerging after an “oops” discovery.

For those that don’t think that IoT is in their lives, think again. Do you have a mobile phone? How about a computer at home? Did you get a fancy new fridge for Christmas that can tell you when you are running low on milk? Or, how about the latest craze in home assistants such as Alexa or Google Home – perhaps this was a new addition to your life? If you said yes to any of these, then you should definitely care about security by design and privacy by design.

So, once you have updated your computers with the patches sent out from your computer provider, let’s use the Intel incident to collectively start asking, no demanding, that all software and hardware providers implement – immediately – security and privacy by demand principles, protocols and standards! If consumers stand up for their rights and only support companies that adopt security and privacy by design, this will cause all companies to follow suit. Better yet, let’s legislate it and have severe penalties in place for those that don’t comply.

Want to learn more about how security and privacy by design impacts your marketing and communications? Connect with us.

Privacy, TaylorMade Solutions

The Unintended Consequences of Security Cameras: Children’s Privacy Breached

These days we can expect to be “on-camera” and recorded in most public places we frequent. Despite the fact that most of us don’t think twice about this, there are significant privacy consequences related to security cameras that we should be very, very concerned about.

First and foremost there are at least five questions we should be asking:

  1. “Who” is actually recording/watching us?
  2. What are they recording/watching us for?
  3. How long are they retaining this information?
  4. Can they “legally” record us?
  5. And finally and perhaps the most concerning, “Are they live streaming?”

This final question really rose to the top of the list just last month.  Parents and school administrators were somewhat shocked to discover that a school in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia was “LIVE” streaming video of kids in various school locations. Of course the intention was not to live stream, but unfortunately inadequate protocols were in place and this meant that firewalls were not in place. The result: images of kids were able to be live streamed for months.

In fact, the images had been live streaming for some time. Equally disturbing is the message that was displayed with the video. “Change Password” is clearly shown with the date and time of the video. The risk here of course was that some bad actor or actors could have taken control of the video system. Equally disturbing was the fact that in some cases, the camera position and the ability to zoom could have been accessed and actually changed.

As a parent, you would have obvious concerns with this. School administrators would have these  same concerns, but you need to add the liability issues. And then the question is, who if anyone, is liable? And, should they be?

As someone who advocates for privacy, I have a whole host of concerns with video surveillance. Consider the questions I list above. We have a right to know these things. Of course, there are very legitimate reasons for security surveillance. And please don’t get me wrong, I think that in the right circumstances, video surveillance is not only a necessity, but critical.

Let’s break down the questions above in a little more detail:

1. Who is recording us?

It’s true that we are being recorded more than we think. In public spaces, there should be an expectation of video surveillance. This surveillance however, is meant to be a deterrent against crime or other less than other desired behaviour. For example, I am sitting in a coffee shop right now and taking a quick look around, sure enough, I can spot two surveillance cameras. They aren’t actively pointed at the seating area, but rather the cash and the access to the back room.

The key to this are the words “public spaces.” Street corners are public spaces. Shopping Mall hallways are public spaces. Schools may not fit the traditional definition of public spaces. While a public space, a school is not open for any random strange to enter and wonder through. Additionally, public but private spaces such as locker rooms change rooms or washrooms are not truly public spaces.

An additional layer of complication is when children are involved. In these cases there do need to be extra precautions. There are many legal requirements when it comes to capturing images of children and how you use those images. In my business, I will not use a photo of a child, unless I have written confirmation from the parent(s) that I can. Live streaming children does not pass the smell test. In other words, if you are live streaming children, make sure you have your legal requirements covered and most importantly protect the identity of the children!

2. What are they using this information for?  

Remember that when using surveillance cameras, the information collected should be done in such way that the minimum amount of information is captured. For example, there is an expectation in change rooms and washrooms that there would be no cameras. If using cameras for security at a banking machine for example, the camera should not capture images of people walking by on the street outside the bank.

Additionally important is the capturing of audio. This is yet another level of detail that impacts privacy. Capturing images is one thing, but capturing conversations is a real intrusion upon one’s privacy. Live streaming it takes it to a whole other level of violation of privacy.

People have a right to know that they are being recorded and signs should be posted. You see this in airports for example.

3. How long is the data kept?

As stated previously, if surveillance is recorded, the information captured should be such that it is not capturing more intelligence than what is needed. Additionally, keeping this information is not something that is meant to be indefinite. Organizations must look at retention schedules. These of course can vary, so it is important to set realistic timelines and to properly delete the files.

Laws do change over time and what you may be able to do now, you might not be able to in the future. There is definitely a need to balance the rights of privacy of individuals while also collecting data that is needed to protect citizens. If you are using surveillance cameras, be sure to check with the applicable legislative and legal bodies for your region.

Want to learn more about privacy and how it impacts your marketing and communications? Connect with us.

The Sunday Brief heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

The Sunday Brief for Sunday August 20, 2017

For this Sunday Brief I am focusing on the top blogs I enjoyed about privacy. As this is a growing issue, all MarComm Practitioners and business owners should be placing more priority on privacy. In fact, in the industry we say that you should be baking-in privacy planning (as well as cybersecurity) from the very beginning. So, with that in mind, let’s check out the latest Sunday Brief:

Dark Reading

This blog always has insightful information. This time, I am focusing on a post by Kelly Sheridan. The post is entitled 50% of Ex-Employees Can Still Access Corporate Apps. From a privacy and security perspective, this is a disaster waiting to happen. As Sheridan points out, the value of data is significant and the probability of a data breach is much higher when you fail to do one of the number one – and easiest things – to protect your client data – disable access. This is a great read and a ‘must-do’ practice for all organizations.

 IT Security Guru

I find this article really fascinating. I work hard to keep my work and personal lives separate. I have always maintained two phones – one for my personal “stuff” and one exclusively for my work. So, when I saw “Employees rate mobile privacy highly, as less than half prefer to keep work and personal lives separate,” I was somewhat surprised that less than half want to keep their personal lives separate and distinct from their work lives. This blog post was written by Dan Raywood.

Interestingly enough more than 84 per cent of employees rate privacy as a top three concern. However, there is a clear lack of trust in the ability of their employer to manage their mobile security and privacy. That is pretty significant.

This is article is very interesting to me in terms of the lack of trust that exists and secondly that so many people aren’t concerned about keeping their private lives separate from their employers. The two concepts don’t seem to align.

BH Consulting 

This particular entitled Doing privacy ‘rights’ vs doing privacy ‘right’ by Valerie Lyons gives an interesting look at privacy and different roles that individuals, government industry play.

 

All three blogs are a great read. I encourage you to check them out if you are interested in privacy-related topics. And if you are looking for MarComm support for your organization, reach out to us at TaylorMade Solutions.

 

Personal Branding

New Year: Time to Audit Your Online Presence!

I always think that people should take a good long look at their online presence twice a year. For many people, however this is a lot of work. So, I really recommend that people audit their online presence at least in the New Year. It’s the perfect time to have new perspective. And now that we are a few weeks in, you are focused!

Some people might roll their eyes when I mention personal branding here, but that’s o.k. Whether people like it or not, they have a personal brand. Managing your online presence is an important component of owning and managing ‘your’ brand. A cornerstone in branding is ensuring consistency in all channels. That applies to your personal information. And, with cybercrime only on the increase, managing your information has never been more important.

Here are 5 things to help you do just that: (Not in order of importance)

social media

1. Take an Inventory

Over the course of a year, we end up signing up for a lot of different things. Sometimes it is email updates and other times it is for newer social apps such as SnapChat. If you haven’t been keeping track, it is time to start an inventory. Make use of either a spreadsheet or keep track in an application like Evernote. I wouldn’t recommend you keep your various passwords in anything but a very secure password keeper, however! Please forgo the spreadsheet OR Evernote for that.

When you have this comprehensive list you can review and determine if you have actually been leveraging all of these tools. If you haven’t, it might be time to opt-out or deactivate some.

Pros for doing this: By keeping an inventory, you know just where your information is and for what purpose. As roles change and careers progress, you may not want to have certain assets as you go forward. Additionally, you will ensure that your professional image is consistent across platforms.

Cons: This can be time consuming if you haven’t kept track and you may not find them all. There are of course apps that help you do this, but in my experience you have to “sign-up” for them as well and most are “not secure” sites. As a result, you could be further compromising yourself. So, while it is hard work up front, it pays off very quickly. 

2. Review your Avatars

When is the last time you updated your photo? Last year? Five years ago? Or, hopefully you don’t still have the “egg”. Regardless of what image you use, ask yourself, what professional imagine do you want to convey? What is your line of work? What message do you want to send? Your picture should reflect this.

Pros for doing this: Having an up-to-date and professional photo that portrays your profession, can only be a positive.

Cons: It does require keeping your photo up-to-date on all channels and if you use a lot of different social profiles, it can be timing consuming. However, this is another reason to edit out just how many you have.

3.  Contact Information

Have you changed companies? Perhaps you have consolidated some of your contact information? More and more people are doing this, but neglecting to update their social information to match your current information is less than desirable. The result? Outdated contact information for you. Again, think about what this says about your brand. If people are trying to contact you, this is not the best impression.

Pros for doing this: Keeping updated information, contact information in particular, means that you are reachable. If you are in business for yourself or in sales, having the “right” contact information is critical.

Cons: I really can’t think of any.

4. Automation

Despite being 2017, people still revert back to tactics of the 90’s or even the 2000’s. What do I mean by this? Well, for some we believe that we should only broadcast information. There is no social interaction with those whom we are connecting with. This is not the purpose or intention of social media. So, for those who focus on having automated social messages, such as on Twitter thanking people or telling them to connect on Facebook or LinkedIn, please rethink that. This is not a numbers game. In business you NEED interaction and specifically ACTION! Numbers alone don’t create action. Relationships create action. So, communicating and interacting with the people who follow you  and you follow, matters. In fact, it matters a lot!

Pros for doing this: Far too many people focus on numbers versus relationships. Creating relationships will set you apart from others. Dump the automation and focus on relationships.

Cons: I am not going to beat around the bush here. Doing this properly takes planning and orchid.

5. Security

This is probably the most important rethink for your social media. What information are you sharing? It’s important to remember that there is a fine line between sharing professional information and sharing information that can compromise your personal/online security.

Sharing birthdays and martial status on sites such as LinkedIn is not necessary and I would recommend that you just don’t do it. Think about each channel you are on. What is really relevant and right for your brand. Just because there is a ‘placeholder’ for something doesn’t mean you need to use it.

Passwords are also extremely important. Of course there is the debate about how often you should change your password. My rule of thumb for passwords is to change them on sites when I learn of a compromise. I also recommend having a longer and more complicated password with special characters and numbers.

Of course these are some of my top hits. I will explore others in a later post.

Want to learn more about social media audits, an integrated marketing strategy? Be Trained! Be Prepared! Have a TaylorMade Solution!

6 Tips to Protect Your Personal Data, Including Your Digital Exhaust

How much thought do you give to your personal information that you share on line?  With identity theft on the rise along with scammers of all sorts looking for ways to find our personal data weaknesses, we should be thinking about this a lot more than we do. We need to always be thinking about our personal data, including our digital exhaust.

6 Tips to Protect Your Personal Data, Including Your Digital Exhaust, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of drbonnie360.com

There are many types of personal information that we leave behind, and it would seem that we do so willingly.  Sometimes we give up a significant amount of information just to get something for free.  Sometimes we put the information out there willingly not realizing what we are doing.  For example, I once had a coworker who not only put his birthday on LinkedIn, but he put his wedding anniversary and his home mailing address.  This is a lot of personal information given up completely voluntarily and is known as Digital Exhaust.  Digital exhaust is the information that we willing give out and leave behind when on line and downloading information, doing online purchases, playing games, adding details to our online profiles, etc.

At best, these little tidbits about our personal life tell people we know more about us.  Worse case scenario,  we have left behind so much information that we have basically given a full profile of who we are, where we live, what we do and what we like to do.  This is digital exhaust and many of us don’t even know that it exists.  In fact, there are many less than ethical people out there who will work to aggregate our digital exhaust and use it against us.  So, let’s get to the list:

1. Is Free Really Free?

Think about the offers that excite and intrigue you. Often times they offer something in return for you signing up for “something”.  But, like my mother always says, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  By filling out a form and/or downloading information, you are often asked for some personal details. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing.  Most reputable companies do this and they respect your data.  But, if you are asked for more than your title, telephone #, email, company name and information like this, think twice.  Ask yourself why they would need your birthdate for example?

2. You Want My Credit Card Why?

Ever get offered a free trial for something only to have them ask for your credit card info?  This is a personal preference, but anyone that  offers me something as a trial at no cost is NOT getting my credit card information.  If I choose to continue using the product/service, then and only then will I give that information.  Technology today is a wonderful thing and if they offer something for free for a month, they can easily cut me off at that point if I don’t pay.

3.  Birthdays, Anniversaries and Marital Status

Sure it is nice to get a Happy Birthday from someone, but why do you need to put this on your LinkedIn profile?  How many places is that “really” relevant.  At least on Facebook you can hide it.  For profiles like LinkedIn, and I love LinkedIn so don’t get me wrong, but you are already  willingly giving your workplace, the names of your schools, publications you have been in and much more.  Why in the world would you also give this additional information and make it public.

4.  Accepting Connection Requests

Certainly people want to build out their LinkedIn connections, but there is something to be said about quantity over quality.  Again, this is a case where you need to devise your own strategy to determine who you will connect with and who you won’t.  I recently wrote about LinkedIn becoming the next tool for spammers. I noticed that I was receiving a significant amount of connection requests from people that had no reason to connect with me.  With one google search, I realized my instincts were correct.  These requests were coming from people who were not being forthright with who they are.  I didn’t accept.  I have since learned that their accounts have been disabled. Good job LinkedIn!

5.  Public Profiles and Privacy Settings

Most social networks offer some level of privacy.  Always check and know your settings.  For example, to limit the exposure of my detailed information being used, my Public Profile for LinkedIn does not tell the entire story.  I chose what details would be public.  It is a great feature!

6.  Apps

You know the saying:  “there’s an app for that” and there probably is.  I would caution people on Facebook for example when playing games and using various apps.  While not all are like this, there are apps that require you to give up access to all your personal information, your connections, email and contact information, etc.  While you might choose to give up “your” personal information, your friends will appreciate you more if you don’t introduce them to risks!

These are just a few ways to help keep you safe while online.  In this case you are in the drivers’ seat and you can ultimately decide what you do and don’t release.  Anything that you would add to this list that I haven’t?

Want to learn even more?  Sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

 

Sex, Drugs & Rock n’Roll? How About Smart Technology, Ethics and Privacy?

Sure, sex sells and drugs and rock n’ roll still elicit a raised eye brow from many, but I have a question that is much more important to the masses.  Are we really ready for where smart technology – specifically related to appliances – is taking us?  Do we have the ethical issues identified?  What about privacy policies for vendors, industry ethical standards, laws and regulations?  Have we really thought out the implications and considered the ramifications?

Image courtesy of digitaltrends.com

Image courtesy of digitaltrends.com

It has been less than a week since a refrigerator has been identified as the source of more than 100,000 spam email.  Seriously…yes, a fridge was used to spam people.  It was spam this time, but my point is that someone was able to get control of the computer in the appliance – a fridge that was located in someone’s home or business.  We have been so focused on virus protection and firewalls for our computers, mobile phones and tablets, but what about all this great new technology that is already in our homes and yet to be in our homes – fridges, microwaves, and even diapers – I kid you not diapers.

Technology is emerging so quickly that we just can’t keep up with the implications and ramifications.  Regulators  and legislators are still struggling to catch up with social media and all the issues around privacy that have emerged.  Ethically, we are still working to deal with online bullying and distribution of child pornography as well as what rights employees have to privacy, and the rights of employer  to access to social sites and information of their employees.

This is not to say that all this technology is not great.  Just the opposite actually!  I love technology and the things that it can do for us. Technology has enabled us and empowered us to reach wider audiences and to have a voice.  Prior to social media, individuals didn’t really have this ability…not without a lot of expense and time.  Additionally, I believe that there is some great work being down with Smart Grid technology with a significant focus on protection and privacy.

The issue for me around all of this smart technology in terms of appliances  is really centred on who is the gatekeeper?  Who is helping identify all of the potential land mines that come with having access to so much personal data? Who is ensuring that the right people have the information versus protecting it from the wrong people?  As more and more smart devices enter our homes, there are countless companies that will have access to our activities including food and drink preferences and consumption, brand preferences and by extrapolation spending habits, when and what rooms we use and how, the frequency of cleaning and on and on and on.  In addition, who has the access and power to take control of our devices ( and information) and use it they way they want to use it?  Can our access be cut off?

As we become increasingly dependent or reliant on our technology, how long will it be before we  are rendered incapable of caring for ourselves?   What are we doing as individuals to ensure that we protect our data, our privacy and our ability to think for ourselves?

What are your thoughts on having “smart” devices in your home?  Are you ready to jump in with both feet?