Tips for maintaining privacy online

Hi Everyone,

Another week rolls on by in the world of web development.  I want to talk today about security on the internet, how secure is it really for our own personal web surfing and as web developers for the websites we build for our clients.  What got me thinking about this was last week for my security and quality assurance course I was tasked with researching a series of websites and the potential security vulnerabilities that those types of sites would need to be secured against.  Now after several hours of research on the subject I had enough information to write and submit my assignment.

The following morning I received a scary notification from Google stating that my account someone had attempted to hack into my account from Florida and change my password.  Now for some added context here, in the four years since I opened my first Google account I had never had any problems with security or attempted hacks.  So while it may have been a coincidence, it seems that merely conducting background research on the most common types of hacking and the methods to prevent them have somewhat partially compromised my personal security online.

So I was left asking myself, how the heck am I supposed to be able to find out how to defend myself and my websites against hacks without being compromised in the process?  After doing some additional digging it turns out there is actually quite a lot average internet users can do to lessen the chances their online accounts will be targeted.  One of the easiest things to do is remove any cookies your browser stores for extended periods on your computer.  Cookies are pieces of web code that allow visitors to a website to store any settings they have with a given website for use when they return later.  If there are holes in the security of the cookies they can be hacked (as was the case with me) and personal information can potentially be stolen.  Additionally all modern browsers come with some form of privacy mode that doesn’t store user information once the browser window has been closed.  In Chrome this is called incognito browsing, and both Firefox and Internet Explorer have similar modes available in their options menus.

For people and organizations that need even higher levels of security & privacy, several of my classmates told me about different browser all together called TOR that keeps users communications secured by relaying them to different servers around the world which makes it much harder for somebody watching your Internet connection to learn what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.

One final takeaway to remember with all of methods to enhance your online security, while they will make you a much harder target to find and track; but at the same time remember that none of these steps outlined is by any means full proof.

TOR Link

https://www.torproject.org/index.html.en

Social Media and the creation of a good first impression online

Hi everyone,

Happy Monday morning, this week I want to talk a little bit about the still struggling global economy; with unemployment in the US still sitting above 7.5% finding and keep a job is major concern. For job seekers looking to land that next big opportunity effective promotion on social media gives you the perfect chance to create a great first impression as the first place most hiring managers will turn to when evaluating candidates is online.

LinkedIn

One of the first places recruiters look when screening is on LinkedIn.com, which for those of you that haven’t heard of it before is, one of the largest professional networking sites online. So it’s vitally important that your profile be as complete and up to date as possible because this is an opportunity to showcase your personal & professional strengths in a much more meaningful way than a simple resume and cover letter ever could. Now don’t misunderstand me, the resume and cover letter are still important, but in today’s extremely competitive job market you need to be taking advantage of every possible way to make you and your skills stand out from the rest of the hundreds of applicants recruiters will be looking at on a daily basis.

Facebook

Just as important to securing a job in today’s job market is preventing any potentially negative information or photos of yourself from appearing when an employer conducts a search on your name. There have been numerous cases over the last five years of employers dismissing staff over inappropriate or offensive comments or photos that appeared on their personal Facebook profiles. The key to avoiding problems with inappropriate photos and comments is certainly a delicate matter; and as the lines between people’s personal and professional lives tend to get increasingly blurred online, it’s important to remember that once it’s online it tends to stay online forever. So with that in mind you’ll need to cull any truly embarrassing photos of yourself and for the rest, alter your privacy settings so that only direct friends can see them. An even more secure method is to create an entirely new profile with all your personal comments and photos using an alias, which will separate your professional persona from your private life to a certain degree.

Google +

Now Google+ is Google’s response to the massive uptake seen Facebook usage in the last few years. It has yet to see the kind of public uptake seen on Facebook however, I mention it here because Google+ integrates with all of Google’s other online services, meaning that if you have one, your Google+ profile will be the very first search result employers see from a google search. As with everything that shows up about yourself online the thing to remember when conducting a job search that all the content that’s out there reflect all the things are best about you.

Managed effectively a great social media presence can open up all sorts of opportunities for you that probably didn’t even exist just a few years ago.

2013 New Possibilities

Happy 2013 everyone!

I hope you’ve had a restful time away from the away from it all and were able to spend some quality time recharging your batteries to get ready for what is sure to be an exciting new year.

2013 is already shaping up to be a really exciting year.  The coming semester is really going to be all about bringing all the technical skills I first learned and then developed 2012 in isolation, and combining them.  To be perfectly honest I expect the coming weeks and months to be most interesting stage of the Web Development program.  Learning about the various SQL commands for databases, proper JavaScript syntax, and .NET controllers didn’t really hold my attention as well as it could have last semester.  So the one big draw for me this semester is seeing all of the various pieces working together in a fully integrated website.

One such site that I and several of my classmates are currently in the early stages of working on is an online auction site that connects buyers and sellers of a whole range of products together.  We’re still in the planning and designing the features we want to include in it and without giving away too much what I can tell you is that it will feature a robust search engine for the items posted, user accounts for site visitors that want to do more than just “window shop.”  One thing I realized as I sat down with my teammates to list out the main features this site will need to incorporate what became abundantly clear almost immediately complex website I will have helped construct so far.  Whist this is a bit scary sitting here now at the outset it also holds a great deal of promise because this will give each of us the opportunities to really flex our coding muscles to their limits.  As the old saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Be sure to stay tuned for updates as things start to get underway.