Sharing Photos Online

Say Cheese! Do Your Photos Jeopardize Your Privacy or Safety?

The convenience of posting photos with friends and family has become more fun and convenient than ever. Social networking sites make it easy to share pictures with grandma and grandpa, your coworkers, your childhood friends, or anyone who has an interest. Still, it is important to consider a few simple tips pertaining to copyright, privacy and safety issues.

• Disable the GPS technology before taking pictures with a smartphone or other location enabled camera if you plan to post them online. Otherwise, the coordinates of your exact location are recorded with the photo. This could publicize your home address or other places you visit

• Read the Terms of Service on photo sharing websites and other social networks. Otherwise, you may inadvertently give permission to websites or their users to use your photo as their own.

• Check your privacy settings on any websites where you may share photos. When possible, select the option that allows you to keep photos from being found by search engines. In addition, the best way to keep pictures private is to limit those who can view them.

• Know who your friends and followers are. If you have hundreds of friends on Facebook or any other social media sites, perhaps you don’t know them all too well. Decide whether you are comfortable with those people having access to your photos. If not, it may be time to review and narrow down your “friend” list. If your settings allow “friends of friends” to see your posts, your pictures could potentially be seen by thousands (or maybe more).

• Consider photo sharing sites that allow invitation-only access with password protection for viewing.

• Avoid sharing identifying information, such as full names, schools or locations of your photos.

• Watch out for lower-tech ways of sharing information. Maybe the photo was taken in front of your home or children’s school. Maybe your t-shirt has a school logo. These scenarios and others could tip off information that you would prefer to keep private.

• Use common sense. Don’t post a photo that could be embarrassing in 10 years or more. With facial recognition technology, pictures will potentially be available for years to come. That means that your toddler’s potential employer could know quite a bit about his or her childhood!

• Awkward! You may have a tough decision to make if a friend or relative posts photos of you or your child online. Do you ask them to take it down? After all, you won’t know who has access to or the picture.

• Consider a watermark. Imprinting a watermark on your photos can make it harder for someone to misappropriate the image.
Wait! No…!! Don’t Open that E-mail Attachment Until You Know that It Is Safe!
Wait! No…!! Don’t Open that E-mail Attachment Until You Know that It Is Safe!

Why can e-mail attachments be dangerous?

Some of the characteristics that make e-mail attachments convenient and popular are also the ones that make them a common tool for attackers:

• E-mail is easily circulated – Forwarding e-mail is so simple that viruses can quickly infect many machines. Most viruses don’t even require users to forward the e-mail—they scan a users’ computer for email addresses and automatically send the infected message to all of the addresses they find. Attackers take advantage of the reality that most users will automatically trust and open any message that comes from someone they know.

• E-mail programs try to address all users’ needs – Almost any type of file can be attached to an e-mail message, so attackers have more freedom with the types of viruses they can send.

• E-mail programs offer many “user-friendly” features – Some email programs have the option to automatically download e-mail attachments, which immediately exposes your computer to any viruses within the attachments.

What steps can you take to protect yourself and others in your address book?

• Be wary of unsolicited attachments, even from people you know – Just because an e-mail message looks like it came from your mom, grandma, or boss doesn’t mean that it did. Many viruses can “spoof” the return address, making it look like the message came from someone else. If you can, check with the person who supposedly sent the message to make sure it’s legitimate before opening any attachments. This includes email messages that appear to be from your ISP or software vendor and claim to include patches or anti-virus software. ISPs and software vendors do not send patches or software in email.

• Keep software up to date – Install software patches so that attackers can’t take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available, you should enable it.

• Trust your instincts – If an e-mail or e-mail attachment seems suspicious, don’t open it, even if your anti-virus software indicates that the message is clean. Attackers are constantly releasing new viruses, and the anti-virus software might not have the signature. At the very least, contact the person who supposedly sent the message to make sure it’s legitimate before you open the attachment. However, especially in the case of forwards, even messages sent by a legitimate sender might contain a virus. If something about the email or the attachment makes you uncomfortable, there may be a good reason. Don’t let your curiosity put your computer at risk.

• Save and scan any attachments before opening them – If you have to open an attachment before you can verify the source, take the following steps:

1. Be sure the signatures in your anti-virus software are up-to-date.
2. Save the file to your computer or a disk.
3. Manually scan the file using your anti-virus software.
4. If the file is clean and doesn’t seem suspicious, go ahead and open it.

• Turn off the option to automatically download attachments – To simplify the process of reading e-mail, many e-mail programs offer the feature to automatically download attachments. Check your settings to see if your software offers the option, and make sure to disable it.

• Consider creating separate accounts on your computer – Most operating systems give you the option of creating multiple user accounts with different privileges. Consider reading your e-mail on an account with restricted privileges. Some viruses need “administrator” privileges to infect a computer.

• Apply additional security practices – You may be able to filter certain types of attachments through your e-mail software or a firewall.