10 ways to protect your digital life

Standard

Last week Jeff Bedser, CEO of Princeton Internet Crimes Group (PICG), spoke at the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s July Membership Luncheon. Throughout his time with PICG, he’s seen it all. The mistake most people make, he said, is viewing the virtual world as fun, private and without consequences.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you post photos from your phone? Does your Facebook profile show that you’re married, and to whom? Do you tweet when you’re on vacation?

If you said yes to any of these, then you may be in danger of an attack. Take the following precautions before you update your status, tweet, instagram, pin, or whatever else you people do these days in the crazy expansive world of social media.

1. No geotagging. Geotagging often occurs on cell phones because they have global positioning software installed. Geotagging does not usually happen with digital cameras, so try to upload photos from a device other than your phone. You can disable the geotagging feature on your phone, but you may have to check it often, as updates often enable it without warning.

2. No personal information. Your name? Okay. But your address? Where you ate dinner last night via foursquare? Your birthday? Maybe not. Hackers can easily guess the answers to security questions through the information that you’ve publicly posted.

3. Create obscure passwords. It may be super annoying to sift through a messy stack of papers until you find ‘FjF#!jklowI128’ written on a notepad, but a complex password will deter hackers from working their black magic on your account.

4. Lie. When accounts require answers for personal questions, such as your address, simply lie. Create fake information when possible to maximize security.

5. Use a fake name. When purchasing and setting up a new computer, tablet, smart phone or wireless router, name it something other than, well, your name. Once again, the more ambiguous, the better. Bedser says that the device’s identity is tagged in meta-data, which is then attached to things like pictures and documents.

6. Delete all spam. DO NOT OPEN IT. By simply opening an email your computer or network could be at risk. Play it safe, and if you sense something fishy, just delete it.

7. Use anti-virus programs and update regularly. Self explanatory.

8. Do not connect to unsecured wireless networks. Mooching off of a wireless hotspot during your layover is mighty tempting, but resist. Hackers can access your personal information if you use their network.

9. Never send personal information via email, even if the sender looks legitimate. This is a common online scam that can come across as totally official. Hackers will copy bank statement letterheads and logos to trick online users into verifying information like social security numbers and addresses.

10. “If your children are on Facebook, you should be on Facebook.” Watch out for your kids and create acceptable use policies for your family. Keep security measures in check and don’t be too prideful to ask for help when you feel over your head.

Did you attend our July Membership Luncheon? If so, what did you think? Do you feel like you got a lot out of it? What would you like to see at lunches in the future?

How to be a Rock Star Tweeter

Standard

Think about it — tweets are a bit of a puzzle. You have to be witty, charming, informative, and whatever else you want to be, in less than 140 characters. Lately I’ve found myself decoding tweets that are so peppered with abbreviations that they’re barely legible. Trust me, I’m not going to be re-tweeting those any time soon.

We all know how valuable tweeting is. It can be a huge boost to business to have a large Twitter following. Here at the Chamber, we consider it a big asset to actively use twitter. So how do you successfully tweet?

Be Brief
There’s no rule that says you have to get everything out at once. Let’s say your company is working on a really awesome and exciting project. Most likely some brilliant employee will probably suggests that you alert your Twitter following (ahem). Great idea! But don’t feel like you have to get every aspect of your project down in a single tweet. Break up the project, and constantly update in small tidbits. This will make your followers feel informed, while also keeping them engaged.

Use Simple Language
Every industry has its own set of business jargon. This may play well in your office or your boardroom, but Twitter isn’t the place for it. For example, if you tweet, “We’re so amped to release a new service-oriented market development program featuring file share supersonic software!” Guess what. I have no idea what that means. A better way of putting it would be, “Everyone here’s working hard to bring you a new app to edit tweets. It’s going to be a marketing breakthrough.” There. That’s something that a normal person will actually understand, and probably want to use.

Be Informative
No one wants to read a banal tweet like “Just ate breakfast. Cereal today.” (I’ve actually seen friends post this kind of thing). Make sure you have an actual point that you want to get across.

Plz – NO Abbreviations
Chances are if you have to abbreviate, you’re already over extending yourself. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but on the whole, it’s a lot easier to digest a tweet that’s actually written in English. Not to mention, you avoid sounding like a teenager.

Edit
You can always go back and pare down a tweet — a little here, a little there. You’d be amazed by how much more concise you can be by just spending an extra minute or two trimming out less important words.

Needless to say, tweets are an art, not a science. It’s impossible to get it right every time, but you can definitely improve your odds by being smart about it.