Facebook and twitter are among the popular social network sites that have over the years become a trendy means of communication, particularly among the youth. Most of these networks provide a quick interactive platform for people to keep in touch with friends and family, as well as meet new people and expand social circles. The purpose of social networking sites primarily is to allow users establish friendship, romantic relationships and business connections. Different networking sites offer different features, but majority allow the user to provide information about him or herself to varying degrees of detail.
As harmless as it may seem, posting too much personal detail on facebook and other social networks is a security threat.
It is difficult to understand why a total stranger would want to use your information to hurt you, but it can happen. On the other hand, it could be someone who wants to get back at you for something you did to them knowingly or unknowingly.
If you constantly update your status about what you do, who you are with or where you are, the fact is you are not alone. A report from digital crime indicates that 38% of users of social networking sites, post updates indicating where they will be for the weekend, vacation plans etc. Another 17% have been reported to post residential as well as work place addresses. This is the biggest source of vulnerability.
Tips to help you stay safe on Facebook
1.Be careful what you post about yourself. Limit the amount of personal information
2. Understand, utilize and frequently review security and privacy settings for each social network you join.
3. Avoid detailing your day to day activities on Facebook and other social media.
4. Avoid the use of location based services that automatically update your where about.
5. Do not post photos of your family members especially children.
6. Limit the number of social sites you sign up for. The more you join , the more vulnerable you are.
1. Be careful what you post about yourself. Limit the amount of personal information because not everyone is a genuine friend. You don’t have to accept every friend request. Remember criminals will use fake profiles to obtain information from you. Everything you post on the internet is permanent. Even if you delete your social network profile, criminals can print text or photos or save them on a computer.
2. Understand, utilize and frequently review security and privacy settings on facebook. Set your privacy settings so that only your self, or friends can see your profile and content.
3. Avoid revealing details about your day to day activities social media. You can never know who is watching. Minimize exposing places you visit frequently, or activities that you do as a routine. This will prevent criminals from tracking you down easily. Remember not everyone is a friend out there. Also avoid letting people know when you are not at home, or when you are alone at home.
4. Avoid the use of location based services that automatically update your where about online.
5. Do not post photos of your family members especially children. Child sacrifice is rampant especially in the developing world and such revelations can make the children vulnerable. Resist the temptation of posting photos of expensive household items because they attract buglers. Children and teenagers are more vulnerable to threats from social networking sites. Parents therefore should actively take the initiative to explain internet safety to their children in order to keep them safe.
How Criminals can use Facebook to get to You
When you have endured enough stress from work and therefore deserve a fun filled vacation, it is common that you will develop the desire to tell friends about it. Whether it is showing off or not, you decide to share the idea with your lovely friends on face book. So you update your status.
“Jinja here I come. Am taking a week off with my family to enjoy the fresh breeze at the source of the Nile, starting this wweekend. Will keep you posted”.
In addition, your profile has details of your work place and home address. You have posted a lot of photos of you in your house, showing off your expensive home theater, a huge plasma screen and your trendy collection of shoes. You are very social and have about 4000 friends on facebook.
Unfortunately, one or two of these friends survive on burglary for a living. They take a good look at the pictures and the details on your profile, and plot for a visit. A week later, you arrive from your vacation to find your valuable items missing without a trace.
Posting photos and revealing personal information will make you vulnerable to buglers, stalkers, sexual predators, identity thieves and even kidnapers. This information is posted as an innocent way of opening up to attract friends and possibly find true love. But remember not everyone looking at your profile has honest intentions. There are many cases of violent crime reported all over the world, relating to the use of social media.
Talal Al-khatib an author for Discovery news reports an incident that occurred back in 2011. 28 year old Josh Tyree had arranged a date with 24 year old Tara bell, after a spell of interaction through one of the social networking sites. Instead of a romantic evening, Tyree was met by two others in addition to Bell. The others were Latasha ward, who served as a lookout, and Bo Guedea, who robbed Tyree at gun point and later shot him in the leg.
A post by Identity guard in 2010, shows Gordon Snow, assistant Director Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), outlining some of the serious cyber-crimes. One of the most eye catching cases is that of ‘Data mining’
“Cyber thieves use data mining on social networking sites as a way to extract sensitive information about their victims. This can be done by criminal actors either on a large or small scale. For example, in a large scale data mining scheme, a cyber-criminal may send out a ‘getting to know you quiz’ to a large list of social networking site users. While the answers to these questions do not appear to be malicious on the surface, they often mimic the same questions that are asked by financial institutions or email account providers when an individual has forgotten their password. Thus an e-mail address and the answer to the quiz questions can provide the cyber-criminal with the tools to enter your bank account, or credit card in order to transfer money, or syphon your account. Small scale data mining may also be easy for cyber criminals if social networking users have not properly guarded their profile or access to sensitive information. Indeed some networking applications encourage users to post whether or not they are on vacation, simultaneously letting burglars know when nobody is at home”
Interaction on social media can be fun, but it's always wise to proceed with caution. The incidents mentioned above are a few of the numerous cases of cyber-crime linked with the use of social media.
It is important to remember that it can happen to you or someone you know at any time. You might have heard of such cases in your area and probably dismissed them as mere tales. You may also imagine that the victims of these incidents were too gullible and that you can’t be conned in similar style. But remember the more information you expose to the public, the more vulnerable you become