I frequently receive questions regarding the safety of social networking.  There are reports of social network users’ computers getting infected by computer viruses, etc.  These incidents are often related to correspondence about the social network in emails  I just want to address some of those concerns in this post.

Most of the incidents related to computer virus infections occur due to phishing emails and websites or from infected emails.  Sometimes abstinance is the best policy.  However, I think people use this as an excuse to avoid getting involved with social networking.  Rather than abstaining from social networking all together you should practice safe computing.

Safe Computing Policy:

  • SYSTEM SOFTWARE
    • Keep your computer updated with the latest software releases
  • ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE
    • Install it on your computer
    • Keep your anti-virus software updated with the latest data releases
  • FIREWALL
    • Use a personal firewall to protect your computer against vulnerability attacks.
    • Use a NAT Router between your Network Modem and your computer.
  • DNS (Domain Name System)
  • EMAILS
    • DO NOT trust emails that ask you to confirm a password change (UNLESS IT HAPPENS BECAUSE YOU JUST REQUESTED IT)
    • DO NOT trust email links (UNLESS YOU JUST SENT THEM TO YOURSELF OR YOU JUST REQUESTED THEM)
    • DO NOT open emails with attachments (UNLESS YOU REQUESTED SOMEONE TO ATTACH A FILE)
    • If you want to share a website, share the link to it.
    • If you want to share a photo, you can upload it to flickr, share your photo link with your friends or family.
    • My flicker photos are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrwes/
  • WEBSITES
    • DO NOT visit websites unless you trust them
  • SOCIAL NETWORK PRIVACY SETTINGS
    • Only allow your FRIENDS to see your information
    • Don’t accept invitations to use a Social Network Application unless you know for sure what it’s all about.

If you take a few precautions, you can have a safe and happy social networking experience.