More and more we’re living our lives and expressing ourselves through email. Every aspect of our lives are communicated through email — work, personal, and intimate details are shared. The recent scandal involving CIA Director Patraeus has reminded us all that those email communications are as secure as we would like them to be. Of course, Director Patraeus’ emails were unearthed by the F.B.I. using the governments vast powers of investigation and surveillance. Regardless, we all need to recognize that our work emails, our family emails, and our intimate emails can be unearthed in myriad ways. Please be careful when committing your most intimate thoughts to email. Here are some thoughts from the Online Mom about email privacy.
I have been using long before it became popular. That lack of popularity meant that virus author saw little value in writing for the Mac platform. Once, several years ago during the spyware epidemic, a work colleague of mine mentioned that he was switching to the Mac platform because he was sick of viruses and spyware. At that moment I knew it wouldn’t be long before Mac were a target of malware authors.
Now that the market share for Macs has risen the platform is more likely to be under attack — which was foreseeable. Don’t forget to take precautions and install antivirus software. The security firm Sophos provides free Mac antivirus software.
Last year leading researchers danah boyd and Alice Marwick wrote a frank paper about how teens view and manage their privacy. This extremely influential research piece forced many of us to rethink our preconceived notions of how teens view privacy and how they deal with privacy issues. And, it provided an unvarnished assessment of the role parents play in that equation.
PBS affiliate KQED’s MindShift wrote a very good piece based on the boyd/Marwick research that’s more accessible. It’s worth a read. We’re thrilled that great research is starting to be reflected in journalistic reporting on these issues.
Yesterday the Washington Post’s On Parenting Blog wrote an article titled “Instagram: What parents need to know.” The article discusses whether Instagram, a social camera and photo editing app for iPhone and Android phones, is safe for use by youth. The article was conspicuously written shortly after Facebook announced that it would buy the little app company for $1 billion (No, that’s not a typo. “B” as in Billion). The article references a helpful article written by YourSphere media about that topic.
The takeaway is that Instagram is a social photo app network. Anything that takes a photo and uploads it should be treated with caution — as the article rightly points out. The article also notes the possibility that the app can be used for bullying. All true. But, I think it’s worth noting that most Internet and online technologies pose that same possibility and that the overwhelming percentage of teens and tweens manage to deal pretty well with those pitfalls. Beyond that there seems to be nothing inherently unsafe about Instagram. The only issue we could see with the article was that during a recent Android installation of Instagram there seemed to be no age requirement and statement of age as the article suggests. Perhaps it’s only in iPhone OS.
Of course, sexting and bullying are real problems that parents must be mindful of. Our friends at ConnectSafely.org have writting some great pieces on the pitfalls of bullying and how to deal with sexting.
Many of us use a lot of different Google services from GMail to Blogger.com. For a long time Google has centered your privacy report in its Dashboard where you can see your data practices across those services. Today, Google introduced an upgrade to that service called Account Activity. Here’s a Google blog post describing how to activate it. Basically, it gives you more info about how you use Google services across the board. Pretty cool for the privacy conscience.
Google+ is Google’s social networking service and until now it’s been closed to teens. The Google+ team delayed teens’ access so that they can build a safe and sensible social networking environment for teens from the ground up rather than retrofitting one later. Our friends at ConnnectSafely.org have developed “A Parent’s Guide to Google +” that explains the service and its approach to safety and security. Check it out here.
Today Verizon Wireless started spotlighting Net Safety Tips On The Go, the first-ever digital safety and security advice app for Android smartphones and tablets as part of National Internet Safety Month. Net Safety Tips OTG is also featured in the Parental Controls Center, Verizon Wireless’ comprehensive website with information to help consumers manage and create a digital experience that’s just right for their families.
Net Safety Tips On The Go, developed by GetNetWise.org, is available to Verizon Wireless customers through V CAST Apps. V CAST Apps gives Verizon Wireless customers an ever-expanding selection of games, productivity tools, entertainment and news apps. We are pleased to be featured so prominently by Verizon Wireless, whose dedication to family safety and personal privacy is astonishing.
The content for Net Safety Tips OTG is contributed by three of the other premier online safety education organizations in the world — Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely.org, OnGuardOnline.gov. This innovative app makes it easy for consumers and families to keep up with mobile and online privacy, safety, and security issues using their Android smartphone or tablet. Net Safety Tips OTG is also looking for additional content partners. Contact us at email@example.com
If you have an Android phone or tablet download the App from the Market by searching for “Net Safety Tips.” Visit http://netsafetyapp.org/ for more information.
Verizon Wireless Press Release
Verizon, Google team on Android digital safety and security app
June 20, 2011, By Jason Ankeny
One of the world’s most prolific and followed tweeters, Ashton Kucher (@aplusk ), found out the hard way that it’s very important to take precautions using open WiFi hotspots to communicate. At a recent technology conference Kucher’s Twitter ID was stolen and his account was hijacked by an activist [story]. We at GetNetWise can’t say it enough, take precautions when using WiFi.
You don’t need to suffer Kucher’s fate when using open WiFi networks at your local coffee shop or airport terminal. Just make sure you are using SSL. Make sure the URL address starts with “httpS://” — the “S” stands for secure. Do not logon or transmit any sensitive info such without seeing it. Here;s how to protect your Twitter and Facebook IDs over open WiFi:
In Twitter, just make sure to type in the “S” into the URL address when logging on. Insert “S” after the “http” and before the colon, like this: httpS://www.twitter.com . Just remember.
In Facebook you can do the same thing. Just make sure to type in the “S” into the URL address when logging on. Insert “S” after the “http” and before the colon, like this: httpS://www.facebook.com . The first time you do this you will see a blue button that reads “Enable Secure Browsing” (See below). Click that and your default login will be secure.
GetNetWise is proud to contribute content to the “First-Ever Online Safety & Security Education App Available on Smartphone Platform.” It was developed by GNW’s parent, Internet Education Foundation, along with Google and Verizon and the content is contributed by three of the other premier online safety education organizations in the world — Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely.org, OnGuardOnline.gov. This innovative app makes it easy for consumers and families to keep up with mobile and online privacy, safety, and security issues using their Android smartphone or tablet.
Spammers and identity thieves have committed a rash of email hijacks lately. Maybe you’ve seen a friend’s email account hacked, sending out unwanted spam. These new email account hijacks are a disturbing twist on an old hack. In most cases users’ email accounts are taken over and used to send out spam. In a new twist identity thieves are using the email accounts to steal passwords and your identity and access online accounts such as Amazon, banks, etc. Often these ID thefts result in the deletion of your email account. Don’t let this happen to you.
K.C. Budd wrote a great set of tips about preventing email account hijacking and posted it on his Facebook page. Don’t be a victim.