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Are You Oversharing on Social?: 8 Facts Criminals Can Learn from Your Social Media Activity


Social media is a part of life. Given the state of the world, social media has become, for many, their main source of social interaction. Between Zoom meetings for work, watch parties to connect with friends, and countless conversations over social media posts, we can forget how many people may be watching. On social media, it’s your friend, their friends, their family, and their followers. The question arises–are we sharing too much information? 

Your cybersecurity really does rely on your privacy. With some of the tiniest bits of information, cybercriminals can find their way into your email, private accounts, and even your home network. But how do they get this information? They can find it all on your social media. 

The quizzes you take, photos you share, and chats you participate in may seem innocent enough. But there are random tidbits of information that can be used against you.  We take quizzes, reveal personal info on posts, and share photos that can be giving away way more information than we intend. When are you sharing too much information? What can criminals learn from our social media activity? Here are facts criminals can get from your normal social media posting. 

Your Name

This is a given. We have our names on our profiles so friends, family, and networking contacts can find us. But this also makes us searchable for cybercriminals. And there are quite a few things they can do with your name. 

Let’s say you get added by a random account that happens to have a cute profile photo. You might add them to up your social media numbers. They can look like someone you know. Or maybe even be someone you know. But these can be fake accounts just to collect information. Hackers and cybercriminals can make dupe profiles of your friends or family to try and get personal information. But criminals can do a lot with your name. They can use your name to guess your email address, account logins, or to try and steal your information.  A good rule of thumb is to remember that when you’re posting your full name along with a profile photo, a criminal can know who you are. 

Your Address

Criminals can use your name to find your address and phone number by looking up your information. They can also locate your address from your IP address. Your IP address is like your home address but for the internet. Personal contact with you can give hackers access to your IP address, and by extension your home address. Also, if you check in often, they may be able to locate your exact location via Google Maps. 

Where You Work

 A criminal can use your name and profile photo to find you on LinkedIn. Once they’ve found your profile they now know who you work with and can locate your co-workers. This could be a cybercriminal, stalker, or just some nosy person you met on Tinder. If you share your work information that might be a great networking tactic. But this does put you in the potential reach of criminals. After all, if you are putting out there that you are a CEO of a major corporation or a lawyer in a prominent firm, this could make you the target of bad actors who know that you may have large amounts of money or high credit limits. 

Where You Are

People often “check-in” to tag an event or restaurant, or resort. Or maybe you post from your location to Instagram. These may not be intentional or maybe it’s just meant for friends. But this lets people know where you are. You may think you are meeting up with friends, but you could also wind up attracting someone random like a stalker or criminal knowing exactly where you are…or aren’t (like your house!). A good tip is to post about locations an hour or so after you’ve been there. Your social media profile does not need to be word-perfect or 100% honest. After all, you are using filters. 

When You’re Not Home 

If you check in on a vacation or day trip this can let criminals know you are not home. This gives them a prime opportunity to rob your home. This is why it’s important to be mindful before you rush and post vacation photos. 

What You Have

Everyone would love to be an influencer. Many take to social media to post about new purchases. Or maybe you flash a photo of your closet. Or maybe your YouTube video is from your vanity where someone can see your jewelry. But you should be aware that you are letting criminals know exactly what your valuables are and where they are in your home. Random photos can let them know where you keep money or electronics. This can make it easy if a criminal decides to take a quick trip to your home. 

Be mindful as well that when you post photos from home and show flat-screen TVs or artwork in the background, you are advertising more stuff that criminals might like to steal.

Your Secret Security Questions 

Think of how many quizzes or fun games you play on social media. It may be What would your Halloween witch name be? or your favorite color on Mars. But these quizzes can let criminals figure out your birthday or birth year, which is bad news. If someone can get your full birth date, he may then be able to locate your Mother’s maiden name.. Also, random quizzes or old posts can let criminals know your first pet’s name or the street you live on. 

Social media can be a great way to connect with family, friends, and old schoolmates, but you must be shrewd with regards to what you share to protect yourself from criminals both online and in person. There can be catfishers, stalkers, robbers, and identity thieves, so post responsibly. You can’t always control what happens to the information you put on your social media but you can control what you post. 

If you want to get a better handle on your privacy, try the What is My IP Address 21 Day Privacy Challenge.

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