The majority of Americans online have a social networking profile that they use frequently, but far too many of us keep our information open and unsecure. Often people will feel safer on social networking sites compared to email because of less spam or the presence of their friends. Out of the over 1 billion monthly active Facebook users, as many as 11%, or well over 100 million profiles, are fake accounts. Some pet owners create accounts for their pets, while others have innocent secondary accounts created by users who got their first profile hacked. However, there are disingenuous duplicate profiles, spamming profiles created by companies, or maybe worst yet, phishing accounts from hackers.
Duplicate accounts can be used by hackers to pose as a person or business to request personal information through misleading private messages, a form of phishing. The goal is to acquire enough publically available personal information that the criminals then try to use to request a temporary password or similar access to accounts of the targeted individual, and bypass the security measures. Think of the answers to “secret questions,” such as your pets names or your mother’s maiden name. Are these bits of personal information, often used for password reset applications, accessible through your social networking sites? Remember, it is not just protecting yourself from a person with malicious intent from viewing your site directly, but accessing the information from a compromised “friend” or “connection” account as well.
Checking your privacy settings on social networks is an easy step towards protecting yourself and keeping your data hidden. You can prevent your pictures from being stolen and used for advertising without your permission and stop future employers from using your profile against you during the hiring process. Always be careful with confusing or misspelled private messages, links leading away from the site you’re on, or pages that seem too good to be true. To learn more ways to spot a phishing email read our blog about it. The best thing to do is not click if you aren’t confident about the link. Send any suspicious links or messages to Information Security at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, remember, what you put out on the internet stays on the internet, even if you delete it-so be cautious of what you share.