Opportunistic malicious parties often find social media sites to be prime targets for gathering information on users.
by Internet security specialist BullGuard has revealed that Internet users can
be overly complacent about posting personal or potentially sensitive data
online. When questioned about various information stored on social networking
sites, forums, groups and other interactive services, 42 percent of 2,000
consumers surveyed admitted to posting their date of birth, 18 percent posted
their telephone number, 28 percent opted to have usernames and passwords
remembered, and 14 percent did the same for bank details.
questioned specifically about social networking services such as Facebook and
Twitter, 36 percent admitted to posting their pets' names on public pages, 24
percent shared children's names, 7 percent their address, and 11 percent showed
off photos of high-value goods such as a car or TV. Worse still, over a third
of Facebook and Twitter users admit to updating their profile to inform people
that they are away for the weekend or going on holiday, thereby potentially
alerting their absence to thieves.
malicious parties often find such sources to be prime targets for gathering
information on users, and without sufficient security measures in place this
makes it all too easy to gather personal details that could make an individual
more vulnerable to attack.
this sort of information may seem harmless to share with others, much of it is
commonly used as security questions when accessing an online bank or confirming
identity over the phone," says Claus Villumsen, Internet security expert at
BullGuard. "It's also a bad idea to publicize the fact that you will be away
for any period of time, especially if the house will then be empty, as this
just gives more information to would-be thieves as to your whereabouts."
of the appeal of social networking is obviously the ability to share
information to stimulate conversation and build a "personality" online, but
this is something that malicious users are also aware of, making it an
attractive way to build up a profile on an individual. Though excessive caution
may take the fun out of such activities, a number of simple safeguards can be
used to help ensure that users don't become a target.
recommends a list of safeguards to help ensure that sociable Web users can
enjoy an online experience without being at risk, including never accepting
friend requests from people you don't know, or who aren't easily identifiable
from associations with other friends, as well as spending some time learning
about the security measures available on sites like Facebook, and ensuring that
posts and photos aren't available to everyone. The company also recommends
stripping out any personal details from a profile that don't really need to be
there-for example, pets' names, addresses, maiden name and date of birth.
is particularly important if you use services that request this sort of
information to confirm your identity, have been used as a security question in
the event of a password being forgotten or are used to log into a Website,"
said Villumsen. "Ensure that any passwords used for important sites or services
bear no clear relation to any hobbies or interests you may have, as a would-be
thief may try common words linked to these subjects when attempting to guess a