You may think you lead a pretty unexciting life that won’t be of any interest to criminals, but the criminals would disagree. Even the most innocuous pieces of information can be collated, analysed and used against you, meaning it’s important to think about what we share online before we share it.
Of course sharing information online is the bedrock of social media. And we’re certainly not advising against doing it. After all a social media website full of online hermits wouldn’t be an exciting site to visit. But it’s important to be both selective and considerate over the information we choose to make available about us online. This article is designed to highlight some potential consequences people risk if they “overshare”.
You’ll get robbed.
Of to Ibiza for the weekend? Family skiing trip over Christmas? Usually when we leave our houses for an extended period of time, it’s because we’re going somewhere more exciting, that lets us escape the often tedious routine of our day-to-day lives. And it is this excitement that often leads to some pretty unwise oversharing.
Regardless of your social media privacy settings, it’s a universally bad idea posting online when your house is going to be empty. Thieves can and do target potential victims based on their social media activity. We already know this. And posting on Twitter that your house is going to be ripe for the taking when you’re half way across the world is a sure fire way of risking a pretty horrible surprise upon your return.
You’ll be impersonated
Yes, this basically equates to identity theft, where a criminal obtains enough personal information about you in order to pretend to be you.
Identity theft relies heavily on personal information about you. Your full name, phone number, address, email address, photos of you, your friends list and your age. When you open accounts, be it online accounts or offline accounts, think about what information you need about yourself. There are so many accounts that can be opened using just relatively benign information about you, and if you inadvertently give up this information online, scammers can start opening accounts in your name.
Things get worse when you consider that these accounts can be used in further crimes, that could potentially leave a paper trail that leads straight to your door.
Okay, so certain information we sort of have to give up, like our name (Facebook are still pretty insistent we use our real name) but don’t give up other information about yourself so easily. Identity theft criminals choose their targets largely based on how much information they voluntarily give up online. So if they see you’re privacy-aware and not giving up a lot, this is likely to put off criminals from the get go!
Remember, even making your Facebook friends list public is enough to make you and your friends the target for Facebook cloning attacks!
You’ll get fired
We’ve discussed this a number of times before. The number of employees being shown the door as a result of their social media activity is constantly rising, highlighting how much we’re struggling to cope with living with social media in our lives.
Whether it’s making your feelings about your job abundantly clear, having embarrassing photos available online that put you in a bad light, having “out-there” political views or just calling people names online, if it gets back to your employer, it can be bad news.
You’ll get conned
Spear-phishing, for the uninitiated, is a phishing scam that is targeted at a specific person by using information the criminal has learned about them. For example their name, address or occupation. Because it is targeted, it has a higher success rate. After all, we’re more likely to pay attention to a scam email that identifies us by our name rather than the generic “Hello Customer”.
Ultimately, the more information a criminal gleans about us, the more convincing a scam they can orchestrate and execute. Take, for example, a scam that involves a scammer calling you “from your bank”. They know your name. Your parent’s names. What bank you’re with and how old you are. All information they got from your social media posts. How convincing a scam could they compose? A pretty convincing one, we think!
You’ll risk your accounts being compromised
We’re all familiar with the “secret question”. The backdoor into an account if you forgot your password. When you lose your passwords, you just need some personal information about yourself to regain control of your accounts, like your email account.
But if someone knows that information already, and it’s not you, what’s to stop them from trying to gain access to your accounts without the need of having your password?
For example, your secret question is the name of your old high school. Yet your latest Tweet mentions your old school and the fact you went there.
Can you think of any other consequences of oversharing on social media? Let us know.