Protecting identity on social networking websites

Millions of people have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or some other social media profile these days. People use these sites to keep in contact and stay up to date with their friends and family as well as keep others up to speed. Social networking can also cause drama, job loss and a personal breach of security.
Jeff Gimbel, a senior security analyst for the IT department at NDSU, held an informative presentation March 22 about “securing your social,” or keeping your identity safe on social networking sites.
That permanent record everyone talked about in high school? That permanent record is real, Gimbel said during his presentation, highlighting how everything users do online is kept forever.
Gimbel stresses that it is important to keep a clean and secure web presence. There have been several stories about people losing jobs over things that they have posted on Facebook, as well as about people losing their identities.
Many Facebook profiles appear to be rather open, allowing anybody to see most of the user’s information, especially where he or she lives or goes to school.
Gimbel suggests that students allow websites to do what is called secure browsing. Not all sites allow this, but some – like Facebook and Twitter – do.
According to Gimbel, secure browsing creates a pathway from your computer to the website you are trying to access through security certificates. If the certificates match, the information you put onto the website is encrypted if another program tries to look at it.
It is important to look through your Facebook security settings closely, Gimbel says. While secure browsing can keep information safe, it can’t safeguard against everything.
Stalking, or “creeping” as some call it, can be harmless. Keri Lenzmeier, a junior in radiologic sciences, says that it is easy to find yourself checking information on a friend’s profile, which can lead you to the profiles of other people you are not friends with.
However, according to countless articles featured in the Daily Mail, USA Today and other news sources, it can turn deadly.
You don’t want people to creep up on you, Justine Jarmin, a sophomore majoring in Human Development and Family Science said.
Lauren Spillers, a freshman majoring in public relations and advertising who is active on four social networking sites, agrees with Jarmin.
All of your information is on there, she said, going on to say how Internet security is important in order to protect your identity.
Although Facebook’s security settings may be confusing and change often, Gimbel states that the Federal Communications Commission has gotten involved and changed how Facebook can update security settings. Regardless, he says it is a good idea to get acquainted with how the security settings work.
Two major things Gimbel discussed were active sessions and limiting the audience for past posts.
Active sessions can be accessed under the security tab in your Facebook account settings. This shows users where they have logged in to Facebook, and allows them to end suspicious sessions. For anybody whose account has been taken over by a spam bot, checking active sessions as well as changing your password will remedy that.
Limiting the audience for past posts can be found in Facebook’s privacy settings. This tool helps you hide your past posts from certain people, which can be effective if you are starting to look for a job. However, Gimbel says another easy fix to this issue is to keep your profile cleaner in the first place.
It’s very hard to be taken seriously if someone can look a few years back and see pictures that reflect negatively on you, he said. He suggests periodically searching yourself on Google and checking the photos you’ve been tagged in to make sure that no negative information can be found.
Social media is here to stay, Gimbel stated at the end of his presentation, but presented many ways that he feels can help people keep their online identities clean and safe.

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