You’ve all heard of “never kiss and tell”, well today we’re talking about “never click and tell”. That is this week’s theme from the National Cyber Security Alliance. What does “never click and tell” mean? It means to be careful about what you post on social media and where you “check-in” at. This has both cyber and physical security aspects to it.
Criminals today are getting smarter and learning new ways to find out more about their potential victims. The main method that criminals are using to stalk their victims is social media. Criminals will look for routines, geo-location on photos or posts, check-ins, where family members are (school events, workplace, etc), and even when someone is on vacation. This will help the criminals determine the best time to break into the house when it’s vacant or when a certain family member is alone and easy to rob/kidnap/whatever it may be. I know this is all scary stuff to think about and not something we want to acknowledge could happen to us, but it could.
In Boone and the surrounding areas including Ames this last year was a string of home invasions leading up to an armed robbery. The two young adults (19 years old) who were doing these invasions were looking up some of their victims on their unsecured social media using it to plan out what to steal, and when the best time to invade their homes would be. They were both arrested and are now sentenced to over 30 years in jail each. To answer the thought we all have of “that doesn’t happen around here”, it just did this past year.
Another case of social media related crime involves identity theft, victims often have Personally Identifiable Information (PII) posted publicly on their social media that was used to help verify their identity even though it was a bad guy doing it. This information included full name, full birthday (month, day, year), home address, and in some rare cases even driver’s license numbers or social security numbers.
Here is what you can do to secure your social media posts:
- Turn off any location updates or check-ins.
- Make sure photo Geo-tagging on your mobile device is set to off.
- Set your home location to just a state such as “Iowa” or turn it off completely.
- Don’t post routines and favorite places you frequent often.
- Don’t include any PII on your social media profiles.
- Post vacation photos after you return from vacation.
- Don’t accept friend requests from unknown strangers.
- Set your privacy to private so that strangers can’t see your posts and photos.
- Facebook help site for managing your privacy: https://www.facebook.com/help/325807937506242
- Instagram help site for managing your privacy: https://help.instagram.com/196883487377501
- Snapchat privacy help: https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/a/privacy-settings2
- Facebook and Instagram both allow you to view your profile as different friend, acquaintance, or stranger levels.
- Look at this occasionally, you could also just log out of those accounts and go to the URL of your social media (for example https://www.instagram.com/josephrussellphoto/ as a URL)
- Encourage your family members to follow the same security practices.
If you would like to learn more about your social media security visit StaySafeOnline.org to view their free resources for you and your family.
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