By Muhammad Ramzan
So much of our data is available online today. It’s often much more than we imagine. It is very easy and tempting to share photos on social media; photos of anything we might be doing. Phone cameras producing professional-grade pictures are not the only reason it is so easy. It is hard to claim every picture you post can make you the victim of a hacking attempt or a scam.
Screening providers like checkpeople make it possible to see where your social media data has appeared. When you enter your name, you’ll get links to sites where your information has been published. However, hacking technology is constantly evolving, so we never know what could happen even one year from now.
What Data is Most Dangerous to Expose?
Pictures can reflect individuals’ relationships, making it easy to guess one’s location. This, in turn, makes accessing personal data simpler. Social media posts make people more vulnerable to online account hacking attempts. It’s easy to link a photo to a name. If someone posts a picture of you and your friends and everyone is tagged, ill-meant persons might attempt to trace relationships and use them to manipulate people to give personal information away.
Searching hashtags like #Classof2018 will reveal your graduation year and the name of your school. If someone has your year of graduation, they’ll soon know what year you were born. From there, they might learn where you were born. Moreover, “what high school did you go to” is one of the most common security questions on social network accounts.
How is Data Exposed?
Data shared in viral challenges is exposed immediately, making it easy for hackers to crack private accounts. Examples of such data are cities where you’re lived, a graduation year, and makes and models of vehicles you’ve had. Data like places and dates of birth are also common security questions to retirement funds and bank accounts.
Cybercriminals can try to use these details to get even more data. Their ultimate goal is to obtain a volume of data that is sufficient to try to get money out of someone’s online accounts. Hackers are always trying to find new and effective ways to get into accounts, including by committing identity theft. This data can be used to send targeted phishing messages, hack social media accounts, and guess the answers to security questions on monetary accounts.
Recently, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) expressed concern about social media trends that involve posting about your favorite athletes or TV programs or makes and models of any cars you’ve owned. Most people use near-identical passwords for all of their accounts. If someone steals your password, they can use it to access and take all the aspects of your life over.
Exposing personal data on social media can even result in a physical risk to you and your loved ones. One of these is stalking. Anyone can start following you if you’ve added location tags to videos or photos you uploaded.
How to Stay Safe
Be careful about what you post and minimize any password overlap. When in doubt, don’t share personal information of any kind. Set all social media account settings to private. If you’re not sure who sent you an email, don’t click on any links in the text. It’s best not to even open it, but that’s not always possible. Phishing scams are most commonly perpetrated by sending emails. When you click on a link in one, the criminal can infiltrate your device or computer.
Publicly accessible personal data is traded by data brokers, marketing agencies, and advertisers legally. It’s now more important to protect your personal information than ever.
The British say, “Be good, and if you can’t be good, be careful.” If you can’t give viral challenges up, always take extra precautions. Change your security questions for online banking and other financial services on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to tighten your social media security settings.
Above all, think twice about sharing personal information publicly. Act like nothing on the world wide web is private. Understand that any information you provide on social media or in an email has the potential to become public.