What Happens to Your Profile After You Die?

If you were hit by a bus, and passed on to whatever heaven might exist, would you care about your Facebook page? Probably not. But your loved ones more than likely would. Things like email, websites, and social media profiles are considered “digital assets,” which may have some monetary value, but for the most part offer sentimental value to the family of the deceased.

I went to high school with a darling young woman who passed away at far too young an age. Her Facebook page sees a lot of activity. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t make use of this forum to leave a message telling her they love her. It’s quite nice to visit her page and witness this outpouring of affection.

When Facebook is informed that a profile’s owner has passed away, the account is memorialized, which means that nobody can access or edit the account, nor can any new friends be accepted, but people can still post messages and comments.

However, the inability to access an account might pose a burden to the family of the deceased, who might wish to learn more about their loved one or need administrative abilities in order to access crucial information, alert loved ones, or even finalize the deceased’s affairs.

The Associated Press reports, “Now lawmakers and attorneys in at least two states are considering proposals that would require Facebook and other social networks to grant access to loved ones when a family member dies, essentially making the site contents part of a person’s digital estate. The issue is growing increasingly important as people record more thoughts and experiences online and more disputes break out over that material.”

Facebook currently provides an online form that can be used to report a user’s death. “If prior consent is obtained from or decreed by the deceased or mandated by law,” Facebook will provide the family of the deceased with a download of all account data.

Though you may not particularly care to acknowledge it, now might be a good time to instruct a trusted friend or family member on how to access your various social media assets in the event that something bad should happen.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)

Banking – How to Balance Security and Convenience With Online and Mobile Banking

Users of online and mobile banking know that financial institutions have a layered security approach in place. Those layers include multifactor-authentication, which may mean requiring users to punch in a second security code or carry a key fob, as well as due diligence in identifying customers as real people whose identities haven’t been stolen, and consumer education.

These multilayers may not always be convenient, but they certainly are geared towards making your online banking experience more secure.

Both mobile and online banking reduces time and expenses by allowing customers to review transactions, transfer funds, pay bills, and check balances online or over your mobile carriers network from anywhere.

Enhanced security with SMS transaction notifications and the ability to turn card accounts on or off, and new technologies like mobile check deposit, in which you simply take a cell phone picture of the check, are contributing to the increasing popularity of mobile banking. Eventually, mobile phones may even replace ATMs and credit cards.

As convenient as this is, you still need to consider security.

Set a passlock to access your mobile that times out in one minute.

Set your computer’s operating system to automatically update critical security patches.

Keep your mobile operating system updated.

Make sure your firewall is turned on and protecting two way traffic.

Always run antivirus software on your PC and mobile, and set it to update virus definitions automatically.

Run a protected wireless network. Don’t bank with your mobile on a public Wi-Fi network.

Never click links within the body of an email. Instead, go to your favorites menu or type familiar addresses into the address bar.

Beware of SMiShing which is like phishing but it’s in the form of malicious text messages.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures

How safe is my identity? What are the latest threats? How do I protect myself?

The 2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming the New Fraud Frontier, released by Javelin Strategy & Research reports that in 2011 identity fraud increased by 13 percent. More than 11.6 million adults became a victim of identity fraud in the United States, while the dollar amount stolen held steady.

Identity theft occurs when someone takes your personally identifiable information (PII), and misuses it, abuses it, and adapts it to his or her own life, often for financial gain.

From the report:

  • Approximately 1.4 million more adults were victimized by identity fraud in 2011, compared to 2010.
  • One of the key factors potentially contributing to the increase in incidents was the significant rise in data breaches. The survey found 15 percent of Americans, or about 36 million people, were notified of a data breach in 2011. Consumers receiving a data breach notification were 9.5 times more likely to become a victim of identify fraud.
  • Javelin examined social media and mobile phone behaviors and identified certain social and mobile behaviors that had higher incidence rates of fraud than all consumers. LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook users had the highest incidence of fraud.
  • Consumers are still sharing a significant amount of personal information frequently used to authenticate a consumer’s identity
  • 68 percent of people with public social media profiles shared their birthday information (with 45 percent sharing month, date and year); 63 percent shared their high school name; 18 percent shared their phone number; and 12 percent shared their pet’s name—all are prime examples of personal information
  • Those with public profiles (those visible to everyone) were more likely to expose this personal information
  • Seven percent of smartphone owners were victims of identity fraud. 32 percent of smartphone owners do not update to a new operating system when it becomes available; 62 percent do not use a password on their home screen—enabling anyone to access their information if the phone is lost
  • 67 percent increase in the number of Americans impacted by data breaches compared to 2010

Protect yourself:

Lock down your PC with antivirus, antispyware and antiphishing. Update your computers operating systems critical security patches.

Keep social media professional. Once you start sharing every aspect of your life online, you begin to give away some answers to knowledge based questions to reset account passwords.

Watch your accounts closely. Look at your statements online weekly for unauthorized activity. Report fraud immediately.

Get identity theft protection and/or a credit freeze.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures