The Dark Side of “The Net”

By Terri Roeslmeier

September 12, 2011

Simply everyone (even grandma and grandpa) is happily surfing “the net”. You can shop in your “jammies”, brag about your vacation and even meet new friends. In the world of staffing and recruitment use of social media, job boards, email, internet searches, and websites have become a way of life. Who wouldn’t take advantage of these technologies? The benefits are extraordinary. One might even go so far as to say a business today could not survive without incorporating these tools. All of this has become so common place that sometimes we forget about the real perils that exist in “Cyber-land”.

It is very important for anyone using the internet to make sure they are using anti-malware software. Malware refers to any of the bad stuff that one might encounter if you go in without ammunition. Your standard viruses are actually less common today than they used to be. The new danger is hackers collecting information about you without you being aware of it. Hackers are looking to steal bank account numbers and credit card information. The good news is that there are excellent security programs around with regular updates to guard you. The investment is well worth it.

When you visit sites that require passwords, use a good one. Yes they may be more of a hassle to remember, but why go out there with a weak password? Also, don’t use the exact same password for every site that you visit. Your protection is more important than convenience.

It goes without saying that you should never get involved with spam emails. We’re not talking about legitimate business advertisements. Usually spam emails are offering some miraculous way that you can profit without earning the prize. They come out of the blue, and usually contain a very enticing subject line. We have all seen these and to be candid – we did open a few out of curiosity haven’t we? Simply delete it immediately in order to avoid temptation. If it was really something that important you will be contacted in another way. Same holds true for social media. Be careful of luring messages that promise gain for virtually doing nothing.

Be careful with sharing personal information. Think twice about entering that contest. Never give out your real birthdate or social security number to a shopping site or a contest entry. Only provide the information on a need-to-know basis and only on a secure site with strict privacy policies. Watch what you put in your emails. Remember, emails can be intercepted and are not a secure medium for sensitive information.

Obviously, stay away from illegal music and movie sites. These sites are teaming with malware. That’s why your kids tend to be a virus magnet.

Social media sites are great for busy people to stay in touch. Limit your friends and contacts to those you know and be careful what you post. Do you really have 500 good friends? Post the details of your vacation after you have returned. Best not to announce your house will be unoccupied for two weeks next August. Double check your social media settings and think about what each setting means. Keep personal information to a minimum even where friends are concerned.

Watch your corporate social media to ensure no one is posting information that may endanger your clients or candidates. Keep groups closed on social media sites unless your topic is very general and you are trying to attract prospects.

Educate your staff on the perils of the internet and explain why specific security measures are in place. Protect your network. If hosting, ask your provider to supply you with specific information on how your data is being kept safe. What anti-malware measures have been implemented? How often do antimalware software updates occur? What network security is set up and how is email being protected? Being in control of your internet security means being informed and educated; so please take the time to learn and ask questions.

This article made an appearance in the July 2011 issue of staffdigest.

Terri Roeslmeier is President of Automated Business Designs, Inc., software developer of UltraStaff software for the staffing and direct hire industry. Ultra-Staff is a staffing software business solution with components for front office, back office and the web. For more information on Ultra-Staff go to