In our last article, we talked about how having a social media account can leave you exposed to potential hacks from cybercriminals who are looking to take advantage of your friends and followers for scams and spam. Now, let’s examine how the material you post online can be used against you by these same cybercriminals.
Many social media sites have a section for you to share your basic personal information. Facebook is the most guilty when it comes to this because, unless the user specifically sets their account to keep this information private, their email address is posted along with other information including home address and phone number and even birthdate. Many people make the mistake of using this (particularly their birthday) in their passwords that, again, gives criminals a possible inroad into your personal accounts. If your password doesn’t have this information, then your password reset security question just might. Oftentimes the question will be something like, what street you grew up on or your mother’s maiden name. If your mother happens to have a Facebook account (and with almost one billion accounts odds are she does) then criminals can mine her account for this information that can give them access to the answers to your security questions. Hackers aren’t the only ones who can put you at risk. Posting pictures of your children online may seem great as a way of sharing information with friends and family, but it also leaves things open for predators who can learn your child’s schedule and personal information which may make them appear to be a trusted friend and not a total stranger.
No one is saying that social media networks should be completely avoided. Like anything on the internet, you have to use common sense and, in some cases, think like a hacker to avoid being the victim of cyber crime. Putting a little time and effort into securing your account up front will go a long way in giving you peace of mind in the end.