Everyone uses social media to stay caught up with their friends and family members. We post about vacations, our pets, the hobbies that we do within our lives, and more as we let our followers see what we do on a daily basis. Back when we didn’t have social media, it was a weird thought to let people see what we did every second of every day. Now, its become our new norm as people become consumed with other people’s lives. However, this doesn’t mean that this still isn’t dangerous. Scammers still lurk the internet, looking to steal every bit of our personal information they can for their own gain. They have become experts at it to where even the name of your dog could affect your online privacy, here’s how.
How Much of Your Online Privacy is Violated Just By Owning a Smart Phone?
According to Time, 74% of Americans care deeply about protecting their data on the Internet. However, a majority of people nowadays own a smart phone, which stores a lot of your personal information based off the emails you receive, the things you search for on Google, and the things you post on social media. A smart phone can communicate with an online store you are shopping at and tell them how much money you make, your ethnic background, your political views, your age, and more information to help that online retailer predict what you are going to buy.
Have you ever had an experience where you were on Facebook, and saw that same product being advertised that you were searching for only minutes ago? We usually wonder how such a coincidence could happen, and usually just laugh it off with our family and friends. However, that wasn’t just a coincidence. Facebook tracks what you searched for on Google from your smartphone and uses it to advertise products on its page. This phenomenon proves that nothing that we search for on Google is as private as we thought.
When we carry a smart phone, we are constantly carrying a tracking device in our pockets. If the police needed additional information from us, they wouldn’t need to ask us. They would just need access to our smart phones to figure out what they need to know. If a hacker gained access to our smartphones, that could cause havoc since many people store their account information on their devices. This proves that just about anyone could know our private information if they really wanted to.
How Much of Your Personal Lives Should You Post on Social Media?
Let’s say you and your family or friends were going on vacation. Excited about your trip, you post a status on your Facebook page bragging that you’re going to be gone for a week and that you will be far away at your vacation destination. Your friends and family members like and comment on your status, telling you to have fun on your vacation. You post photos of your trip, and have a good time before coming back home. However, once you come back home, you noticed that you’ve been robbed while you were away. Now, you’re wondering how this could happen to you while you were on your trip.
The answer is simple. There was a hacker that gained access to your Facebook and saw that you were leaving for a week on your vacation. Your address that you entered on your profile was also seen by the hacker, so they were able to figure out where you lived. Once you left when you said you were going to, they were able to rob your house of any valuables stored. They were able to go untraced, since all they needed to do was view your Facebook to view this information, violating your online privacy.
This is just one of many examples as to how a simple social media post could mean being scammed out of your money or valuables. This could pertain to any social media post that claims you are not home, as well as even disclosing simple things such as the name of your pet, the type of car you drive, the year you graduated college, where you went to school, and much more. Why? Because this information could be stolen by scammers and used for social engineering.
What is Social Engineering?
Social engineering is when scammers exploit the human psychology of someone to get what they want, versus using complex hacking strategies. For example, if you are on Facebook posting about your dog, that we will name Max, a scammer could write down the name of your dog and commit identity fraud. If they are trying to get on one of your online accounts, they could call the company of the account they are trying to hack and give them your dog’s name as a security question. The company then thinks the scammer is you and gives them access to your information. This could work with any bit of information you post on Facebook when you thought you had online privacy.
This doesn’t just happen on social media either. It could happen over the phone or in a phishing email sent to you by a scammer. With a phone call, all a scammer needs to do is pretend to be tech support from your favorite website, then ask you your security question answers. Then, they can turn around and pretend to be you to the website’s actual tech support.
With a phishing email, a scammer can pretend that you’re locked out of your account, but you can access it again through the provided link, Once you’re on the link, it contains a form for you to fill out your security question information. The scammer could then take this information and pretend to be you to gain access to your accounts, which is called identity fraud.
How to Avoid Being Hacked Due to Lack of Online Privacy
- Use unique passwords on all of your online accounts, especially your bank account.
- Be careful what you post on social media.
- Make sure your privacy settings are set to what you’re comfortable with.
- If your account is public, only post a limited amount of information.
- Use two-factor authentication.
- Make sure to store your passwords on a secure password manager versus your device.
- Don’t give out any of your personal information to someone you don’t know.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who might seem suspicious to you. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the suspected person was that you’ve been in contact with if you think your online privacy has been violated.