Top tips for using Facebook!

Roger Thompson - Chief Research Officer, AVG

We recently blogged about the current hot topic of Facebook privacy rules and included a summary of an article we read by Roger Thompson, Chief Research Officer of AVG.  Last week, Facebook introduced new privacy controls following complaints about the complexity of the old controls.

We managed to get hold of Roger to discuss his piece in more detail and he kindly shared his top tips on staying safe while socialising via Facebook – all of which are still very relevant even with the new privacy controls:

  • Think about who you add – It’s not all about numbers of friends. Remember when you accept a friend request you provide your new friend with access to lots of information about you. This includes, posts, photographs, messages and all the background information that you write about yourself.  You can delete friends at any time so perhaps it’s time to refresh your list and think about who you really want accessing your information.
  • Check your settings – Facebook has done a pretty good job at letting you limit how much people can see. So it’s worth spending some time to go through this and adjust where necessary. You even have the option to add ‘limited profiles’ for those people that you may not want accessing your personal information. It’s up to you how you want to use these settings so it’s definitely worth having a look to create a profile that’s right for you! Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook – what you don’t know!

Facebook is a part of everyday life for many of us, but in the last couple of weeks it has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.  Users of the site have expressed their dissatisfaction of the complex privacy controls. In response to this Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commented “sometimes we move too fast – and after listening to recent concerns, we’re responding. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark”. Now we’ve heard the news that they were going to make the controls simpler, starting today.

So what are the issues here with privacy and why has it caused such a stir? In short, users can visit the privacy section of the site and opt in and out of certain things – for example allowing photos you have uploaded to only be seen by your friends or people in your network or restricting the visibility of your contact info. The list goes on and on and quite frankly it is very complex – so much so that there is actually a manual you can download which details all the different options you have!

So Facebook plans to make the issue of privacy much easier for users and one particular issue that we believe needs urgent attention is the use of Facebook’s  new social plugins and we came across a shocking piece on this very issue written by Roger Thompson of AVG. The article explains how Roger was surfing the web to catch up on the day’s news when he noticed the site he was on (CNN.COM) had a live feed of his Facebook friends activity! What was odd was Roger was not logged on to either CNN nor had his Facebook account open.

So why was happening? It turns out that hundreds of website are using the social plugins that Facebook introduced at the recent F8 Developers Conference which are designed to show which of your friends are voting ‘like’ on a particular sites news stories – and if you happen to be visiting the  same sites it will show your friends new feeds. But how is this happening if you are not logged into the site in question? The social plugins are using Facebook Connect which was designed to be a ‘Single Sign On’ for the web – in other words you log on to Facebook once, and when you visit other sites, it logs you on to the site using the Facebook credentials already provided!

We certainly didn’t know this and were quite amazed that this was actually happening – the message here and what Roger suggests is “If you want to stop this type of behaviour, and thus do not want to see the stories that your friends are interested in as they visit the web, simply click “Log Out” of Facebook. This is something that no one really does. Simply, closing a Facebook tab or window DOES NOT log you out of Facebook.  I think the user community needs to be educated specifically on this.”

We agree with Roger and have certainly taken note – what do you think? We’d certainly like to know – let’s hope that Facebook addresses this issues soon!

Cyber Security Forum

With the internet now a part of our daily lives, it’s more important than ever that we make sure all the information we’re sharing is kept safe, and keeps us safe. This applies not only to us as individuals but on a global scale!

In 2007 the Critical Information Infrastructure of Estonia came under a series of co-ordinated cyber attacks – it showed the world that someone and their computer could bring a country to a standstill. Because of these threats it’s crucial that we develop global standards and responses, and make sure developing countries are ready and able to deal with these threats as well.

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is holding the Cyber Security Forum in London on 17th and 18th June to create awareness of these threats, promote international co-operation and help decision makers be more prepared to deal with the issue.

Womenintechnology is proud to be supporting the event but you could be involved too!

The event will feature a number of international speakers – from IT policy makers to technology companies – who will share their valuable experiences. You could be one of them, and raise the profile of your organisation at the same time.

For more information visit the website or get in touch with us!

The intelligence war – twitter vs facebook

Is Twitter bad for your intelligence? It could be if psychologist Dr Tracy Alloway is to be believed. She claims that working memory, which involves remembering and using information, is more important to success than IQ and things like Twitter could actually be damaging to it because of its ‘instant’ nature. She said, ”On Twitter you receive an endless stream of information, but it’s also very succinct. You don’t have to process that information. Your attention span is being reduced and you’re not engaging your brain and improving nerve connections.” Facebook on the other hand is believed to be beneficial to working memory, like sudoku and brain training, as it’s more of a dialogue and involves building connections.

However, don’t stop tweeting just yet. The Times isn’t convinced and reports that during the press conference in which she announced this news, Dr Alloway admitted when questioned that this theory is at the moment just that, a hypothesis that she hasn’t started researching yet. Times blogger Mark Henderson says “Most people I know who use Twitter see it as an interactive tool for conversing with wide groups, and for drawing like-minded people’s attention to information that might interest them. It’s interactive, full of links, and information-rich. It’s a misconception that the 140-character limit makes depth impossible. In fact, to me, Twitter seems to build social networks just as effectively as Facebook.”

What do you think? I tend to agree that Twitter is very interactive although I can see that in some cases how it could be seen to have a negative effect on working memory. Either way, I won’t stop tweeting just yet – but will maybe keep on doing sudoku too just in case!

Laptop repair warning

With such a heavy reliance on technology in 2009, we all know how much of a nightmare it is when something goes wrong. But in this case, it seems that computer problems are just the beginning!

An investigation by Sky News has found that many computer repair shops are stealing information from hard drives – from photos to passwords – and even trying to hack into bank accounts. This is as well as overcharging for the work that needed to be done.

Sky took a brand new laptop, loosened the connection of the internal memory chip, installed surveillance software and took the computer to six different repair shops. Five misdiagnosed or overcharged for the fault and one was caught opening a file of photos marked ‘private’ as well as looking at passwords and attempting to login to the owner’s bank account.

So if you need your computer fixing, make sure you consult someone that you trust and keep private information safe on a hard drive at home!

Input into research on recruiting women & minorities into IT departments

Rachel Dines at Forrester Research, an independent research company, is currently looking for input into a research report on recruiting women and minorities into IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) departments – networking, storage, databases, helpdesk, telecoms etc. She’s interested in talking to individuals who manage people working in those areas and who are happy to share their ideas on recruiting, retaining and promoting women in their teams.

The report is about best practices for recruiting and developing more diversity in infrastructure and operations departments around the world. E.g. why is I&O the least diverse department in most IT departments?

If you have any experience with this, please contact Rachel directly by the middle of September 2009:
Rachel Dines
Researcher – Infrastructure & Operations, Forrester Research, 400 Technology Square, Cambridge MA 02139
001 617 613 6081 or

Thanks so much!

IT graduates – don’t worry

It’s summertime, which means school holidays, sunshine (hopefully) and for many students, time to enter the real world and start job hunting. Many reports have said that the class of 2009 is struggling to find a job, as graduate vacancies drop and salaries are frozen.

However it’s not all bad news, as the not-for-profit initiative for smarter working, Work Wise UK, says that candidates with strong IT skills will always be in demand. Chief Executive Phil Flaxton also said that graduates with technological ability are in particular demand in the SME space as organisations find themselves with fixed budgets.

It is understandable that there are fewer vacancies in this economic climate but hopefully there are still companies that recognise the value of developing graduates to ensure that we have enough talent for the future.