Link Hygiene – the same old risks apply to newly launched services like Ping for iTunes

As each major player in today’s technology and Web-connected world makes a move to get a bigger piece of the social networking pie, they take on new risks they haven’t seen before. But if they only looked around, they’d be able to see and learn from the mistakes of others.

This week Apple launched “Ping”, a new social network that serves the iTunes community. But they don’t seem to have learned much from those that have ventured into this space before them. The Ping forums are being bombarded with spam posts containing phishing links. As blogger Chester Wisniewski, from antivirus maker Sophos points out, “Did they not see this coming?” (click HERE).

While Apple should have anticipated the problems, and tried a bit harder to protect legitimate users from this unwanted content, my advice to users is the same as for any social network: Use good link hygiene.

What is Good Link Hygiene?

Link hygiene is something we all need to practice on a daily basis, whether it’s while we’re reading Email or browsing social networks. It’s about avoiding the risks associated with malicious sites and content, as well as malicious file attachments.

There are many different ways in which hackers and scammers can trick you into giving them access to valuable information and computer resources.

Here are four of the nine items I teach people to check for when it comes to link hygiene which can reduce the risks of becoming a victim from malicious content in Email and websites:

1) Are your Email configuration options set to disable previewing of content or loading of images?

2) Is your computer’s operating system and application software (e.g. browser, Adobe Reader) up to date?

3) Do you have a reputable anti-malware product with up to date patches and virus signatures on your computer?

4) Do you know what your anti-malware product’s alerts look like, so you can recognize most fake virus alerts?

 So, Apple – as well as other social networks – should take some blame for allowing their social network to become polluted with malicious content. However, it’s almost impossible for sites to eliminate these risks entirely. It’s up to us, the users, to stay vigilant, and know how to avoid becoming a victim.

If you’re a Business Premium member of the Streetwise Security Zone, you can download the PDF version of this month’s coaching content on Link Hygiene by clicking HERE. This lesson includes a discussion of the various ways in which hackers and spammers try to trick you into going to malicious sites or entering sensitive information into fake forms.

I am now offering monthly briefings, tailored to organizations that want to build and sustain security awareness for staff. Just because your security team is too busy to do its own training and awareness doesn’t mean you can’t have an economical way to address human security risks. Please call or email me at the coordinates below…

Scott Wright

The Streetwise Security Coach

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Phone: 1-613-693-0997
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