Because of the fast pace development of communication technology, particularly the internet, you could say that letters are a thing of the past. The world now welcomes the lightning speed of digital technology that can send messages to anyone, and anywhere in a blink of an eye. That is why there is no doubt how social networking sites have become the apple of the eye of the 21st century.
Social media in itself is a revolution, connecting billions of people around the world in a single website. However, this very same characteristic of social media has attracted the attention of criminals who exploit social networking sites for their fraudulent purposes. Keeping public cyberspace secured is now considered as a significant concern as the world’s top social networking sites are becoming more and more prone to data breaches.
In a report by Jim Finkle and Jennifer Saba of Reuters, LinkedIn admitted that that the website experienced a data breach and was able to compromise the passwords of some of its members. On the other hand, Facebook has also been facing some data breach issues as many of its online applications have been found to transmit identifying information which allow access to people’s names and even their friends’ names.
Once you have entered your data on a social networking site, it may no longer remain private. This means that the more data you post, the more prone to identity theft you become. Yes, identity theft. Criminals these days are more skilled than you think as some of them can hack their way into your account to steal your personal information or fraudulently use your account.
There are various id theft with data breach tactics that are used by criminals. One of these is called “baiting”. This is done by giving victims with USB drives or other storage devices preloaded with malware which makes their computers open for data breaches. Another is called “clickjacking” wherein the links are concealed under legitimate clickable content in such a way that when it’s clicked, the user unknowingly sends important data to a site.
Some criminals engage in “pharming”, in which they create fake login pages for social networking sites. When victims enter their login information to those fake pages, these are then stored for the use of the criminals. This is quite similar to “phishing”, except that the links are sent to the victims’ email addresses rather than having the victims redirected to the fraudulent website.
Data breaches also come in the form of scams in which victims are offered popular events, news, stories, or other multimedia then leading them to fraudulent websites that enable hackers to access their accounts. One example of these scams happened in Facebook when a video was posted claiming to show Bin Laden’s capture. Of course the video was a fake and the victims unknowingly sent the hoax to all their friends upon clicking, unaware that their accounts have already been breached.
While the dangers of identity theft over social networking sites are true, you can still enjoy the spoils of social networking as long as you are careful in entering your personal information. You can also follow these tips that can help you prevent identity theft. One such tip is to avoid saving your usernames and passwords on the browser when using a public computer.
You can also change the security settings of your accounts in order to limit the information the site can show to your friends and to other people. Make sure that the applications you install are from well-known and trusted developers. Also, you should change your passwords periodically and avoid using your name, birth date, or other personal information as passwords.
Also, do not forget to monitor your credit and check your credit report regularly. If you see some unusual changes in your account, it is possible that your accounts have been breached. Credit monitoring does not only give you regular reports but also informs you when the threat of identity theft is imminent.
In conclusion, the internet is a wonderful venue for social networking. However, it is also not the safest place to post personal information. Then again, you are not totally defenseless as long as you are aware of how people with bad intentions operate to steal away people’s identity. By steering clear from malicious or suspicious websites and following various tips, you can save yourself from the horrors of identity theft.