A timely reminder about online security

With all of furore over privacy changes at Facebook we need to remember that we need to protect ourselves at all times when on the web and not just from a privacy point of view.

A lot has been made of the changes to the privacy policy at Facebook and the choice of opt-out by default. As I have mentioned before, the real issue is the lack of communication surrounding the change and not providing a notification to check your settings immediately when the changes occurred. Things have come to a head and Facebook have been forced to call an all hands privacy meeting to, at least, show they are doing something and taking the issue seriously.

Privacy is only one side of the coin, however, the other being security. You can hold back all of the information you want but if your PC is not secure any online vigilance could be for nothing.

Warning

I was very surprised yesterday to log into my GMail account and see a warning that it appeared my account had been accessed from the US.

Activity

Checking the IP address (67.202.31.60) returns ec2-67-202-31-60.compute-1.amazonaws.com - so, why would an Amazon Web Services machine be trying to use my GMail account? At the time this resolved to "Usage Statistics for community-maps.org".

I don't currently follow a large group on Google Buzz but it transpired that three others had also experienced a similar issue being presented with warnings about suspicious activity on their accounts; one accessed from New York when they are in Florida, a second accessed from Egypt when they are in Canada, and the third accessed from Brazil when they are in Italy.

Is this some kind of concerted effort to gain entry to GMail or mere coincidence?

Responsibility

Yesterday, I tweeted:

He who lives by the web dies by the web

What did I mean by this? That if you lay everything out online don't be surprised if it comes back to bite you.

Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to look after our own information on the web - whether that be by only sharing the information we are willing to be made public or by ensuring that our computers are fully protected. We live in a time where virtually our whole lives are played out online and while we entrust certain information to third parties (credit card details etc.) it is up to us to ensure that we draw a line in the sand that we are comfortable with and then not overstep it.

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