GUY W. FARMER: Net security: Don’t put yourself ‘out there’ | NevadaAppeal.com

GUY W. FARMER: Net security: Don’t put yourself ‘out there’

Guy W. Farmer
For the Nevada Appeal

I recently read a newspaper article encouraging job seekers to post extensive personal information online in order to “brand” themselves on the Internet. But I think that’s a bad idea because it’s an open invitation to cyber thieves and predators to steal your identity.

“Appear in a wide variety of platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube – to cast the widest net,” the article advised; however, computer expert Kim Komando warns against revealing too much personal information on the Internet.

“By simply visiting a Web site you reveal more than you probably realize,” she wrote in a recent column. “They know where you’re located and other sites that you’ve visited … (and) can even learn intimate details about you, like medical conditions.”

“Perhaps the most worrying thing that sites can see is your browsing history,” Komando continued. “That’s creepy, and it puts you in danger.”

Think about that the next time you’re surfing the Web, or when you put personal information – no matter how innocuous you think it is – on Facebook or MySpace.

“Malicious sites might use that information to attack you,” Komando added, “and the information could be made public if you’re involved in a court case,” which is a worrisome thought.

Internet predators frequently target seniors and teenagers for their scams and “creepy” schemes. How often do we hear about young teenagers being lured into traps by sexual predators? The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Facebook “had been transmitting users’ personal identifying information to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies.”

That’s why Facebook has come under fire from privacy advocates for encouraging its members, including seniors and teenagers, to reveal more about themselves to hundreds of millions of fellow Internet users, some of whom have dangerous and/or illegal intentions.

I hesitate to quote slimy “Hustler” publisher and First Amendment advocate Larry Flynt, but he was right when he warned that it’s “virtually impossible to protect your privacy” on social networking sites.

“You may think this doesn’t apply to you, but it does,” he wrote. “The minute you sign on to the Internet you are being watched, not just by our government but also by major corporations. They know where you go (and) what you buy.”

I take Flynt seriously on the privacy issue (he should know) and that’s why I don’t blog or go on social networking sites.

So I avoid the Internet whenever possible although I use it to research information for my columns; however, that doesn’t mean that anyone needs to know what your cat had for breakfast because after all is said and done, who cares? Not me, that’s for sure.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a confirmed technophobe.