A Social Network Time-bomb for Students

OUCH-201303_enI received the latest copy of the SANS Ouch security awareness newsletter today which is all about using social networks safely. Whilst social networks such as Facebook and Twitter allow us to interact with friends and family – the information we publish can be available to people globally. The newsletter reminds us that once things are written on social networks they can very easily become public even if they are protected.

The newsletter warns “Embarrassing or incriminating posts, no matter how old, can prevent you from getting hired or promoted” and with many students looking for summer jobs, industrial placement and their future employers there will be employers that will look at what has been posted on social media. Employing someone is an expensive and risky process. An employer will need to create a short list of CVs to reduce the number of interviews and may use social networking as a means to do this.

Reading some Facebook and Twitter posts over the past few months it is clear that some students do not realise the implications that what they are posting. I know from experience it is so easy to unintentionally write an email that can seem friendly to me but can be interpreted in a different way by the recipient. Posts on public social networks such as Twitter that could be interpreted as unfriendly could be used as a reason to not employ someone or even damage a career even after obtaining a job.

The guidance from the SANS newsletter is to limit the information you post and use the privacy options to make those posts only available to the smallest group appropriate.  Permissions such as ‘friends of friends’ are likely to give future employers access to your Facebook posts and even your Friends today may be your future boss. Ultimately, the newsletter says – ‘if you do not want your mother or boss to see your post, you most likely should not post it’.

What your friends post could be damaging – so ensure you use options in Facebook to review posts before they become public. If things are posted that you do not want public – ask for it to be taken down and always respect the privacy of others in what you post about them.

OUCH-201303_en-SANS logoRead the SANS Ouch security awareness newsletter for lots of great tips on social network security. Lots of other great security awareness tips are available on http://www.securingthehuman.org/ouch and as I have posted before there is a great site What is Privacy? that provides guidance on how to setup your Facebook security.

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