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As the popularity of a site increases, so does the risk to users as criminals are quick to exploit any new technology or trend. Sites like Facebook, MySpace and Linkedln are particularly attractive to cyber criminals who use a variety of social hacking techniques and malicious software to capitalize on the unsuspecting user.

The next time you sign in to stay in touch, please consider these security tips:

1.Information posted on the Internet never really goes away – Think twice before you post those crazy college photos! They are likely to remain on the Internet indefinitely – even if you “delete” them – in cached copies of pages, copies saved on other people’s sites, etc

2.Passwords, passwords, passwords – Use a strong password that contains a combination of numbers, special characters, and capital / lower case letters. Consider using a password that is different from ones you use on sites that contain particularly sensitive information, such as online banking sites.

3.Add-ons add risk-Plugin’s such as “smiley faces” are popular add-ons by teens and young adults. While they add a personal touch, they are a common means for cyber criminals to install malicious software on your computer. In short, limit add-ons to limit your risk.

4.Anti-Virus is critical – Pictures, files, and links on these sites are increasingly becoming infected with viruses, malware, spyware, key loggers, etc. Keeping your anti-virus up-to-date is a critical line of defense.

5.Understand the security and privacy policies – Don’t rely on default settings. Restrict access to the information you share to only those you personally grant access. Also, review a site’s privacy policy to understand who “owns” the data posted to these sites.

6.Exercise caution – Just as you have learned to be cautious while surfing the Web or opening attachments contained in email, you should be equally cautious when engaging with people on social networking sites. Verify the identity of “friends” before granting them access to your personal information.

7.What you share can be used against you – Seemingly harmless information such as your pet’s name, your high-school mascot, your birthday, etc., are oftentimes answers to challenge questions used to reset your password on a secure Web site. Be wary of surveys that often ask for this type of information.

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