Posts Tagged ‘Businessmore’

Job Candidates Gone Wild: be careful what you post online

By Jacqui Cheng | Published: March 28, 2007 – 02:43PM CT

Be careful what you post online if you want to be able to get a job in the future. Your blog, web site, Facebook, MySpace, online dating profile, or even forum postings might “out” your salacious activities to a potential employer. According to a survey conducted by business social networking site Viadeo, one-fifth of hiring managers have used the Internet to find personal information about potential job candidates, and a quarter of those have rejected candidates based on what they found.

The survey was conducted in March, and covered nearly 600 employers and over 2,000 average adults online, revealing that employers are becoming more and more Google-happy when interviewing new candidates. 25 percent said that they had rejected a candidate outright based on what was found online, while 59 percent of employers who used the Internet to find personal information said that their discoveries play a role in their decision making. Some examples provided in the survey results included one employer being put off by a candidate’s seemingly excessive drinking, another being dismayed by a candidate’s postings about company information, and another mentioning that a candidate’s topless modeling left them with the impression that she wasn’t a good fit with the organization’s ethics.

Examples of this phenomenon are everywhere, and many young professionals know of someone who has had information posted online bite them in the behind. A friend of mine was once all the way into the second round of interviews with a new company when he posted some frustrations with the hiring process on his personal blog. The company looked him up soon thereafter, read what he had written, and decided to cancel his next interview.

But there are cases where information found online works to the candidate’s benefit. The report pointed out that 13 percent of employers had decided to actually recruit someone based on what they had found online, such as various personal achievements or skills demonstrated through a web site. I have another friend who maintains a very professionally-oriented blog which he regularly updates with industry news and personal projects; said friend simply gets a constant flow of e-mails from hiring managers asking whether he is looking for a job. And never mind what happens when he actually writes that he’s looking for a job.

The report showed that, especially among younger candidates in the 18-24 age group, people are much more comfortable posting personal information online than perhaps they should be. MySpace and Facebook took the number one spots among this group, with 45 percent having posted personal info to MySpace and 44 percent to Facebook. Other sites in the list that people had posted to included Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia, and “other” social networking sites. Further, over half of the 18-24 age group said that they primarily post “party pictures” online (hey, I’m guilty of this myself), with another 30 percent posting on personal blogs. 54 percent of 18-24 year olds responded that they had even had personal information posted about them online by someone else, with or without their consent.

Viadeo manager Peter Cunningham told Ars that the social networking phenomenon is still very new, and people are posting things online without thinking about the future consequences to their careers. “Information, pictures, forum comments, jokes, and outdated CVs are now in the public domain and available for anyone,” he said.

“We all have a personal brand the same way that a company has a brand for its products and services,” Cunningham added. “We invest in developing our brand—education, training, work experience—and we develop our brand equity, that is to say our network of trusted personal contacts, so why don’t we look after this the same way a company does?”

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Social web sites often easy pickings for phishers, malware writers

By Jeremy Reimer | Published: September 17, 2007 – 11:34PM CT

Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have become a regular part of many people’s daily Internet usage. Malware authors, who are always on the lookout for new and undefended avenues of attack, have noticed this and increased their attacks on social networking sites accordingly, since many of these sites are vulnerable to these attacks. According to the latest Symantec Internet Security Threat Report (PDF), a total of 1,501 vulnerabilities—61 percent of all security weaknesses studied—were found in web-based applications from January 1 to June 30 of this year. This is, however, a drop from 66 percent in the July to December 2006 period, which may indicate that social networking sites are improving—albeit slowly—their security procedures.

Prior to this decrease, Symantec had reported a rise in the proportion of Web application vulnerabilities, starting in the first half of 2004 and ending in the first half of 2006. This period roughly corresponds to the surge in popularity of social networking sites and “Web 2.0” in general. The exuberance over these then-new technologies left security considerations little more than an afterthought, not only for web site designers but for their users as well. Security attacks such as the WMF exploit on MySpace brought the issue to the public attention, and so did third-party security audits such as the Month of MySpace bugs.

Social networking sites are attractive to hackers not only because of potential security holes in the applications themselves, but the fact that the very nature of the site works as a way to spread attacks to more people. “In such a scenario, the attacker may use the legitimacy of the Web site to attract victims of subsequent attacks,” the Symantec report said. “Sites with large user bases, such as MySpace, have already been abused in this manner.”

Because the site is known and trusted, users are more likely to fall victim to unsolicited e-mails or invites and be tempted to download unknown attachments. Once compromised by a trojan, attackers gain access to personal information about the victim, including passwords to other sites, and can easily find other victims to attack via the user’s own friend lists.

The malware problem in general continues to grow. According to the latest report from security firm PandaLabs, there has been more malware detected in the most recent quarter than was found in all of 2000-2004, putting a strain on traditional key signature methods of malware identification. The number of virus-laden e-mails and phishing attacks are trending slightly downwards according to the latest data from MessageLabs, but this is more a function of increased targeting of attacks to specific people rather than a decrease in the number of attacks in general—the bad guys have had a busy harvest season collecting e-mail addresses and are trying to reap what they sowed as quickly as possible.

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Personalized Google searches for all your special needs

By Anders Bylund | Published: October 24, 2006 – 02:25PM CT

The latest service from Google places more control in the hands of webmasters and individuals, giving us the tools needed to create deep searches at the drop of a hat.

The Google Custom Search Engine lets you customize Google searches in many ways, but the biggest draw is the ability to restrict searches to a specific list of sites, overriding the usual PageRank system. While it’s true that you could already do that to some degree simply by adding a “site:www.arstechnica.com” keyword to your search, Custom Search is more flexible than that. You can choose to set a hard limit on what sites to allow, or just give your list extra weight in the rankings. The keyword method also exposes the tuning information in an ugly manner, and you can only search one domain at a time that way.

Apart from that functionality, the new tool lets you set up an AdSense (aka Google’s big money maker) account to make some money from the results, and you can customize the look and feel of the search box and results. If you’re setting it up on behalf of a nonprofit, government, or educational institution, you can choose not to display any ads at all, but the rest of us have to live with them to make it worth Google’s while.

Google calls this “one of the biggest announcements it will make this quarter.” The announcement provided RealClimate as an example of how to use the tool, in this case searching for scientific data on climate change (a topic near and dear to many of our readers and writers) from sites prescreened for high-quality objective information. You could also try the quick-and-dirty search page I set up to try the service out—it really is easy to the point of being foolproof—or give it a spin on your own.

Like Yahoo before it, and entirely in keeping with its own tradition of handing out toolkits with no specific plan for how to use them, Google has given us one more level of personalization to play with. I’m already doing most of the specialized searches I need with quick-search Firefox keywords tied to very specific Google searches, but your expertise in Google-Fu may vary. Many of Google’s experiments end up sinking with nary a trace, but this one looks real-world useful.

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