Safety & Security

Four Reasons Why We’re Old Fashioned

Recently I spotted this line on an account sign-up form:

Why be old fashioned? It’s easier to sign in with Facebook or Twitter”.

Sure, it’s easier to use one global password to sign into everything. Samantha wrote about global passwords last year – and the resulting privacy issues have only become more thorny.

Color us old fashioned. Here are four reasons why.

1. More Trust Equals More Risk

If someone hacks your Facebook account and you have set up trust between Facebook and 27 other sites, then the hackers now have your access to all 27 of those linked accounts as well.

In this example, Facebook is acting as an “identity broker” – and the bigger identity brokers like Facebook, Google, and Twitter become, the more desirable a target they will be to hackers.

Remember too, that no site is immune; LinkedIn and eHarmony confirmed just this week that millions of user passwords have been stolen from their databases and posted on the Internet. (Change these passwords right away if you haven’t already.)

2. Collusion and Harvesting of Your Personal Data

  • Do you want Facebook and 27 other sites exchanging your profile data?
  • Do you want 27 different sites to be able to post to your Facebook feed?
  • Harvest your list of contacts and details from your timeline?
  • Sell that information to whoever will buy it?

I don’t.

Aggregated data is valuable, and the temptation to monetize it is hard to resist. The harvester may claim that they anonymize any data before sharing or selling it, but again, you are trusting this claim which may or may not be true.

For example, they may “anonymize” the data in such a way that it can be re-associated to personal identifying information later.

3. Posting to Friends’ Pages

How about this site that promises “not to post on your friends’ walls”. This may be in accordance with their current privacy policy, but down the road they could easily change the policy and bank on the fact that you will not read it.

And you won’t. Neither will Samantha.

4. The “Oops” Post

Someone, who shall remain nameless, recently pinned a lovely diamond ring to one of her Pinterest boards. Because she signed up with Pinterest using her Facebook login, the pin was then automatically re-posted to her Facebook timeline.

Where her brand-new boyfriend saw it. Oops.

In Summary

Understand the risks and be judicious about linking accounts with your Facebook credentials. For me it’s safe to say that 95% of the time I create accounts the “old fashioned” way.

Use a good password management program to keep them all straight – just don’t use one of those new-fangled online password management tools.

Now who’s old fashioned?

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