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"What's my Web shadow?" - you're probably thinking. Maybe you're also thinking, "And why should I care?" As you've read in our last few issues of CN.Net-News, all someone needs to do is a Google search on your name, and they'll find out more about you than you might like them to know. You may think that your email messages are private, especially if you send them using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection. But they're only secure if the persons on the receiving end are also using SSL, and if you're certain they won't quote your message and send it to someone else, or post it somewhere on the Web. Also, just about all of your personal information is available at various websites we've mentioned, either for free or for a very small fee. So how do you manage it?

Click to see full-size!In the past few issues of our CN.Net-News we've mentioned briefly how to tighten up your Facebook privacy settings. Just this week the Windows Secrets e-newsletter's lead article went into great detail about how your personal information in Facebook can be shared, and how to lock it down for more privacy - see "Tighten your Facebook Privacy Settings" at windowssecrets.com for the full scoop... especially the part about how other applications have access to your personal information. And click on the thumbnail on the right to see how MSNBC's cartoonist Daryl Cagle depicts you on Facebook.

The same sort of thing holds true for other websites you're likely using, such as Blogger, Twitter, LinkedIn and others: make sure you've adjusted the privacy settings for maximum privacy. And as we've mentioned before, be sure that your full date of birth and place of birth aren't displayed publicly anywhere on the WWW, because that's all a cyber-thief needs in order to generate your Social Security Number and steal your identity. Also, it's wise to keep your email address for your financial transactions (online banking, bill-paying and shopping) different from your email address for social media like Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. - Mitchell Kapor

If you subscribe to the paid version of Windows Secrets this month (any dollar amount will do!), you can get excerpts from Me and My Web Shadow - a book by that title to be published this summer - for free. It starts with "where the Web began" (no, it wasn't invented in Al Gore's garage while he was VP, waiting for his turn at the top job... he was inventing Global Warming then!). The first excerpt is "1. why manage your web shadow?," the second is "5. things you need to know about... Facebook and the third excertp is "6. things you need to know about... Twitter. Funny how warnings about Facebook keep popping up everywhere these days!

My wife and I just came back from swimming - I did a mile, and I'm on track to swim the English Channel four times this year: see About Us ;-). On the door of the locker room is a sign: a big red circle with a diagonal line going through a cellphone and the words - "No cellphone use in the locker room: respect other's privacy." Because most cellphones and iPod-like devices have cameras built in, our city has adopted an ordinance against using these devices in public bathrooms and locker rooms. But as I entered and went around the corner, there was a guy using his cellphone in the locker room! I gently reminded him of the sign, and he put away his phone.

This brought home what I had just been writing about before we went swimming: you need to manage your Web shadow! Perhaps if I hadn't said anything to that guy, a photo of my bare backside might already be making its way around the World Wide Web. There are webcams and surveillance cameras all over the place nowadays. There are "aggregators" on the Internet gathering all sorts of information on you and me in near-realtime. So be very much aware of what you write in emails, blogs and social media like Facebook, and of what you're doing in public places.

Sometimes people try to distort another person's identity by deliberately misquoting his or her statements. Then they start a "viral" email, requesting recipients to "forward this to all your friends." A big red flag should go up whenever you see that phrase! Here's the truth about two such emails I've recently recieved:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/ownwords.asp and
...if you read these, you'll see that President Obama is the target of both of these hoaxes, but just two years ago George W. Bush, the then-current president, was often the target of such hoaxes. So before you follow the "forward this to all your friends" prompt, go to Snopes.com, look it up and see if it's genuine or a hoax.

Click on Online PC Support for worldwide PC service   &   Offsite Backup Services for securing your files!

Not all hoaxes are harmful, though - here's one "serious-looking" email that turns out to be really funny:

Subject: Check your driver's license

I definitely removed mine. I suggest you all do the same. Now you can see anyone's Driver's License on the Internet, including your own! I just searched for mine and there it was... Picture and all! Thanks, Homeland Security! Go to the web site below, and check it out. It's unbelievable!!! Just enter your name, city and state to see if yours is on file.

After your license comes on the screen, click the box marked 'Please Remove'. This will remove it from public viewing, but not from law enforcement. Please notify all your friends so they can protect themselves, too. Believe me they will thank you for it. Click on the link below... or copy and paste:


Click to see full-size!When you go to the above link, you will see a form where you can enter your name, city and state. But you won't see any mention of Homeland Security and there's no "Please Remove" box. It's just a practical joke to pull on some of your friends: see http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bldriverslicense.htm. Most likely, though, many people simply obey the "forward this to all your friends" ...without ever actually going to the website and discovering the joke!

How many of our readers have ever clicked on the don't spam link at the bottom of each CN.Net-News? Even forwarding practical jokes "to all your friends" clogs up the Internet - it's estimated that over 80% of traffic on the Internet consists of scams, spams, hoaxes and practical jokes being sent "to all your friends." In our don't spam page it describes how and where to check out stories emailed to you before you forward them, where to report hoaxes, what can and cannot be forwarded, etc. - how often have you received a forwarded email that includes the warning on the bottom: "This message is intended only for the recipient mentioned in the To: line. If you have received it in error, please report it to us and then delete it immediately"? Forwarding such an email is a violation both of privacy and of copyright!

Speaking of copyright violations, a persistent popup from "ICPP Copyright Foundation" is a scam: see -

Last week I received a Facebook email supposedly from a young lady we met in Russia:
"____ liked Things You Shouldn't Say To Your Mom on Mother's Day on Facebook and suggested you like it too.
To see more details and confirm this invitation, follow the link below:
http://www.facebook.com/..." [I won't give you the whole URL because you shouldn't go there!]

Whenever I receive an email that looks even a little bit suspicious, I either delete it immediately or I save it to "My Documents" and view it with Notepad. I did the latter in this case, and saw a complex JavaScript that was probably some sort of malware, so I emailed to our friend and asked her if she had sent it. She replied that it wasn't from her. This is an example of how a stranger can look you up on Facebook, see who some of your friends are, and then send you a message purporting to be from your friend, but with a link to malware.

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Yours truly,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

RobertD HoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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