Protecting Your Internet Identity: Are You Naked Online?

Meet Theresa Payton: CEO, former Chief Information Officer at the White House, media personality, and author of the must-read, “Protecting Your Internet Identity”

Theresa Payton is founder and CEO of Fortalice, LLC, a Charlotte, NC based technology consulting firm. She manages a team of cybercrime fighters who vigilantly watch over governments, businesses and consumers.  Her goal is to protect us all from internet predators.

Theresa was the first woman to hold the position of Chief Information Officer at the White House working under President George W. Bush, and still holds top-level security clearance.  She also appears as a regular television feature, Protecting Your Cyberturf, which airs both on nationally syndicated television talk show America Now (hosts Leeza Gibbons and Bill Rancic) and the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, NC here. She is also competent, sharp, compassionate, and a wonderful friend.

And most importantly, Theresa is co-author of the new and must-read book “Protecting Your Internet Identity: Are You Naked Online?” which just hit book stores this week. I urge you to get a copy of this must read manual. Here is why.

Payton teamed up with one of the Nation’s most prominent privacy and intellectual property lawyers, Ted Claypoole, to write an essential guide to helping us protect our Internet identity and help us recognize who is really looking at us online. Their answer:  the government, your neighbors, employers, friends – the short answer is EVERYONE.  

The book will tell you who is peeping at you online from the government, to cybercriminals, to your neighbors; what your rights are; and provide easy to follow steps to help you have fun while staying safe on the web. Topics include:

• The biggest mistakes we all make when using social media;

• How vulnerable are our cell phones to attack?;

• Is government intruding into our personal lives in the name of safety (using subpoenas to get access to our cell records, Facebook accounts, gaming consoles, etc.)? ;

• Is privacy dead?

Here is just a sample of chapter contents from their savvy, well-written guide.

Chapter 2 digs deep past the media headlines to tell you how your data is collected and used. 

Here are just two quick questions their “Naked Quiz” that are both enlightening — and scary!

Naked Quiz (from Chapter 2, Protecting Your Internet Identity)

True or False?: “Only people on your friends list can see your Facebook posts.”

Answer: False! Anyone can see your Facebook posts, if you allow that in your privacy settings. Even with your page set to private, some information in your profile is still publically viewable.

True or False? ”The chances of someone finding your information using a search engine are remote because very few people actually Google each other.”

Answer: False! In a recent PEW study, out of the 75% of all Americans who use the Internet, over 53% are Googling (or using some search engine) to search for information about each other.

Chapter 6 gives crucial pointers on Internet impersonation: “The Face of Online Impersonation.”

More of Playton and Claypoole’s sage advice:

“Internet image impersonation is easy to do. Anyone can open a free email account with Yahoo!, Hotmail, Google, or any other email provider and use your name. Setting up a social media account on social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace is equally simple. With a little information about your life, your impersonator could even fool those people closest to you.

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to remove these accounts from the Internet. Most Online companies assume that an account is opened in good faith, and you will probably have to prove the damage was done by an imposter (and prove that the imposter is not simply another person who happens to have the same name), before a site such as Yahoo! or Facebook would consider closing an active account.”  (Chapter 6)

The authors even have a 6 question quiz for victims of internet defamation. Here is question #1: Do You Have The Facts to Support a U.S. Lawsuit to Protect Your Online Image? (Do you know the answer?)

1)    If someone has written unflatteringly about you online, were those comments

a)    False;

b)    Intentionally malicious or made with a reckless disregard for the harm they might cause;

c)     Harmful;

d)    Not stated in a formally privileged way, such as filed legal pleadings;

e)     All of the above?

Chapter 10 helps readers learn how to “develop good digital hygiene”: 

“Always looking your best online includes developing digital habits & good digital hygiene – for example: Stay away from unprofessional sounding names or create a separate account with a more professional name just in case you need to use that account in a work setting, such as applying for a job. Using Sexymama@yahoo.com or Luvs2Party@hotmail.com might not portray the image you would like on the job application.” (Chapter 10)

The authors provide practical tips on how to regain control of your internet persona while also fending off identity thieves and other cybersnoops.

And, for those with kids in their lives, Chapter 9 is dedicated to digital natives – the generation born into our digital age that cannot imagine life without instant access to info! (I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Theresa for a section that offers parents strategies to help protect their kids cyber identities).

To learn more about “Protecting Your Internet Identity – Are You Naked Online?” you can visit Amazon.com, and LIKE it’s Facebook page to learn more about the authors and upcoming events. Or follow Theresa on twitter, as I do @FortaliceLLC

Congratulations, Theresa! It’s an honor knowing you.

Michele Borba

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