Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Your online identity hijacked - by your kids?

Yesterday on msnbc's "Morning Joe", host Mika Brzezinski made a comment about goings-on at her house this weekend…  Apparently her daughter hijacked her Twitter account, in an attempt to --wait for it-- contact teenybopper singer Justin Beiber.  To use a generational comparison, it would be like Walter Cronkite's kid sneaking on the set of CBS News, putting on horn-rimmed glasses and mustache, and saying "uh, Paul McCartney, if you're watching, please give me a call, I have some, uh, important things to discuss with you"'…

So if you've been reading this site, you hopefully have your own accounts on Facebook, Twitter, etc, in order to keep up with your kids.  But is your online presence accessible to them?  I'm guessing that Mika's kids didn’t hack into her account, it's much more likely that she stays logged in to her various social media sites.

If you are like most people, you set most web sites to "remember" you, so you don't have to enter your password every time you access it.  It's a hassle to have to enter passwords every time, remember the different IDs on each site, etc.  Generally this is accomplished by putting what is called a 'cookie' on your PC, which contains data about you and your relationship to that site; ID, password, preferences, etc.

However you may want to think about this…  Even if you don't have worries about your kids infiltrating your online world, it is also something to consider if, for example, your laptop is stolen.  Not just Facebook and Twitter, what about your Amazon account where your credit card information is stored?  Your online banking?  And so on...  Cookies are not necessarily malicious, but it does but your personal information a little more at risk.

Of course, this should not work both ways; just because the kids can't access your accounts, that doesn't mean the same works in the opposite direction!  If the kid is still under your roof, you should expect (Insist!  Demand!) that you have the passwords to their online accounts.  I wouldn't log in every day and reprimand them on their grammar usage, but it's just important to have that access if necessary.

Mika Brzezinski has around 17,000 followers on her Twitter feed (and Justin Bieber has 1.7 million!), so perhaps if your son or daughter posted to your Twitter account, it may not have such the global reach; however, it's just important to control your online image!

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