Chatting with LACNIC WARP: Social networks

23/12/2015


LACNIC’s Warning Advice and Reporting Point has issued a series of recommendations regarding security and privacy when using social networks.
Many children, teens and even adults are unaware of the risks they face when they log on to a social network.
For this reason, LACNIC’s security center recommends taking into account certain considerations so as not to misuse the valuable tool that is the Internet.
Graciela Martinez, head of LACNIC WARP, notes that social networks may pose certain risks if users are not careful.
“We share everything on social networks: our family, what we like, our feelings, our friends, friends of our friends. So we must be extremely careful,” warns Martinez.
The first recommendation is to be careful when configuring a profile. Social networks provide tools that allow doing this properly. “We must be as restrictive as possible and try to answer the following question: Would I post my picture along with my address and telephone number on the street? Surely we wouldn’t,” says the expert.
One of the biggest difficulties is that users aren’t truly aware of the extent to which they “bare all” on a social network.
LACNIC WARP also recommends not accepting invitations from people we don’t know. “Is being a friend of a friend enough? Let’s not interpret our number of friends a measure of our popularity. It’s a matter of choosing quality over quantity,” adds Martinez.
If we aren’t careful about the friends we accept, our privacy might be violated.
According to the head of LACNIC WARP, when choosing friends it’s important to be careful because there are fake profiles online “used by pedophiles to approach those most vulnerable — children and teenagers.”
How should children be monitored? Martinez notes that parents shouldn’t allow their children to lie about their age on social networks and that they should monitor their profiles. In her words, “Children shouldn’t create social network profiles and use them as if they were adults.”
Webcams pose a risk to children due to their potential relationships with strangers. “Dialogue is the best tool for being informed,” suggests Martinez.
In addition, social networks are often used to spread viruses or malicious links. A virus can be downloaded unintentionally, so if a user is unsure of a link’s source they should not click on it. We also need to keep all our software up-to-date and install anti-virus software,
What other risks are we exposed to? Identity theft. There have been many cases where users create profiles using someone else’s photos. Each social network has procedures for reporting this.
Users who feel their privacy or identity may have been violated or who have suffered computer security incidents on social networks should report these to the network itself. In addition, they can take their case to the local Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) in their own country or to LACNIC WARP.

LACNIC WARP is a team that coordinates and facilitates computer security incident handling, working together with organizations fighting against cybercrime and other CSIRTS to manage the problems faced by members of the regional community.

Martinez noted that, in these cases, WARP may eventually broker between the affected user and the social network where the incident took place.

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