CONSUMERWATCH: Online privacy
Published Thursday, May 10, 2012 11:59AM CST
Facebook has been under fire recently for its privacy policies. Consumer Reports recently called Facebook's privacy settings "labyrinthine."
Consumer Reports also recently conducted a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. households and found problems with Facebook's privacy were up 30 per cent in the last year. In addition, 20 per cent of people polled said they didn't use the site's privacy settings.
"We estimate that seven million Facebook users ran into trouble in the past year," said Kim Kleman of Consumer Reports. Kleman says the problems are "everything from someone using their login without their permission to them being harassed or threatened."
Consumer Reports said millions post where they were going on a particular day, which could tip off burglars. And millions more liked a page about a medical condition or treatment, details a health insurer could use against people.
In 2009, a health insurer revoked a Quebec woman's disability payments after she posted vacation photos on Facebook.
"Employers can also look for clues in wall posts and photos that may play into whether you get hired," said Kleman.
And Facebook isn't the only threat to your Internet privacy, experts say.
Pierre Attallah of Pallix Internet Security said firewalls and other tools are an important aspect of online security.
"You can protect yourself," Attallah said. But you need to be aware of the current tools available, he added.
He recommends setting up a firewall to keep viruses out, using anti-virus software and checking for regular security updates.
Attallah said failing to take those precautions could allow hackers to access everything from photos on your hard drive to details about your online banking account.