It’s Only Your Identity…Do You Care?

Identity in Social Media Sites

The Real Reasons to be Careful with Your Identity in Social Media Sites

It’s fun to participate in our favourite social media sites.  It is a combination of curiosity as well as our willingness to share our life experiences with others… perhaps also with the hope of attracting some new friends, reuniting with old ones and finding lost family members.  One such site, with which we are all familiar, has attracted over 700,000,000 subscribers.  Here you can connect with people, become who you really want to be, start new relationships or perhaps even find a new job.

Log on to any of these sites and you will see much of the same things.  Notice how many of your “friends” freely post their name, birth date, addresses, contact information, educational and work resumes, family information and an amazing array of photographs of themselves and their friends and family.  Some of these familiar photos are fairly innocent while others could be pretty embarrassing or even damaging if used improperly.

Now, why should you be concerned?

We are familiar with such terms as “phishing”, “spoofing”, “pharming”, “keystroking” and many more of the new techie words.  We have certainly received countless emails disguised to be social conscious concerns which we are requested to forward on to others.  These are often infected with info-tracking cookies and when we send them on to our friends, the infected cookies go along for the ride to the next computers and so on.

Another aspect that is rarely considered is the opportunity we give to others to use our posted photographs for their purposes.  What if your photograph, lifted from one of these sites, appeared as an ad that you did not authorize, or worse on some sort of illicit DVD cover?  It is not out of the question for some unscrupulous character to design a fly-by-night ad with photos they found on-line.  I recently read about a photo of a Mom, Dad and two kids from the United States that ended up as the background in a European retail poster without their knowledge.  What if it was you that was made to look like the spokesperson for a cause outside of your belief, possibly a cult or a product that either revolts or embarrasses you?

We live in an ever changing world. There are up to 900 criminal organizations using these sites to mine your information in order to construct profiles that they can use for their personal gain and we easily provide the opportunity to them.  Many people’s personal profile pages are an ad to these groups with a headline saying “Here is my information, take whatever you need”.  The problem is that they are not always satisfied with just the information, they use your passwords and profiles to access your accounts acting as stepping stones to infect other computers with data stealing malware.  It is from here that the cyber-attacker gets access to bank account and other personal programs. 

Sites like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter are amazing sites if they are used carefully and responsibly.  To the identity thief, it is a business.  We must assure that our information is not becoming the thief’s inventory by remembering that prevention is the key to your security and information safety and by not posting private information and pictures you keep it out of their hands.