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The Dark Side of Social Media Sites

socialmediamonsters
socialmediamonsters

Imagine giving a stranger all your personal details, including your social security number and other related critical-personal information. Just thinking about doing that is illogical to say the least, no one in their right sense would do such a thing. Appallingly, folks unknowingly are doing just that over social media sites. Social media sites such as Facebook, Linked in, and twitter contain the finer points related to your identity.

According to computer experts and online privacy experts.

You are most likely unknowingly sharing personal details such as, profession, marital status; cellular phone numbers, email address and personal photographs, as well as videos which are all considered bits of information that can be pieced together by professional e-criminals.

A study conducted by Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT), students Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistree revealed that how easily they were able to predict significant details on people’s sexual orientation on facebook. The study was based on analyzing 4,000 profiles of men; the purpose of the experiment was to figure out how many profiles belonged to gay men. The study managed to yield results with nearly 78% accuracy predicting their sexual orientation.
The federal trade commission is also worried about the rapid growth of social media technology and its failure to keep up with user-privacy. Although, social media sites allow users to customize their privacy setting, experts say it’s not enough to keep e-fraudsters away.

Even if you have strict security setting on your social media profiles, chances are others users such as friends, relatives, and co-workers on social media sites may end up revealing critical personal details on you, and that’s usually enough for a determined identity thief to figure out your social security number – it’s like putting pieces of puzzle to form the big picture sort of speak.

Simply by analyzing twitter and flickr accounts, researchers were able to predict the patterns of users by the links they posted and their email addresses. Such small bits of info can then be combined with other related information which can be useful in figuring out vital personal information such as social security numbers, say experts.
Personal computers aside, even smartphones and tablet computers are part of the problem experts say. Many social media sites now have mobile applications, when users download these applications they often give users the option to find their friends. Most users, without any reluctance click the “ok” button, and it makes you wonder how easy it is to find your friends on social media sites. Moreover, some apps can fetch contact information, such as phone numbers, email addresses and other personal information.

Experts warn that people need to be very vigilant about their privacy. Users should avoid sharing any information about themselves on social media sites. Moreover, data security experts highly recommend that people should avoid connecting to unsecured networks in public places, most identity thieves use sophisticated software to skim through your hard-drive on unsecured networks. Moreover, if you like many others have stored confidential data on your laptop/desktop, such as e-statements, copies of driver’s licenses, passport copies or tax related documents that contain your social security number, then it’s imperative that you have such data encrypted with data security software such as
Folder Lock
.

About Jonathan Ladd

Jonathan Ladd is a Senior Security Analyst at NewSoftwares. His primary focus is to provide useful advice and deep insight into the latest threats for system and application level security. He is an IT professional with the goal of providing clear guidance on complex topics.

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