Online Self-Policing: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Lisa Huff

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The primary way we communicate today is through electronic communication which may include; Email, Instant Messages, Text Messages, audio, video and communications via websites.

We use these forms of communication in both our work and personal lives. These forms of communication are easy, readily accessible, and something that we take for granted.

We share with those we trust our personal opinions on a range of topics which may show our personal bias, prejudices, political stance, and religious beliefs without any concern about the possible consequence if those thoughts or opinions were to be made public.

As we post to Facebook and Twitter, and share pictures via Instagram or Pinterest, we don’t stop to think about how our posts or pictures could come back to haunt us later in life.

The same could be said about our communications while at work. We may have an internal email exchange that goes on, and one never stops to think about what the impact would be if the content of our email messages, even those that are internal, to our own or our company’s public image.

Our younger generation is also impacted by the way they communicate over electronic communications. There was a story I read in 2014 about a student athlete that was being heavily recruited by a school to play basketball.

The School decided to stop the recruiting process when they found that the student athlete’s Twitter account and found Tweets that did not represent what the University stood for. The student athlete lost a lucrative scholarship because of something they posted to Twitter.

We do not stop to consider that what we share via electronic communications could at some point come back to haunt us.

Some are calling 2014, the “year of the breach”. Considering this, we may need to consider from a personal career perspective, what we say or post in print. We may need to assume that any form of electronic communication that we partake in, could be made public.

A data breach is not a matter of if anymore, but a matter of when. We as consumers of electronic communications must understand and be more thoughtful about our communications.

We are often the weakest link in the security chain. An attacker can use the data that we provided via Social Networking sites and find valuable information about our personal and professional backgrounds and craft very target email messages that could lead to clicking a link in an email thread or downloading a weaponized attachment.

Once this happens, the next step could lead to data exfiltration.

Until companies can come up with better ways of understanding attackers, the types of tools and techniques that are used and potentially their motivation, we as consumers of electronic communications should consider policing ourselves more.

This was cross-posted from the Dark Matters blog.

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