Do Your Part, Be #CyberSmart, Don’t Overshare

October is Cyber Security month. We want to bring attention to this very important issue affecting every person and organization connected to the Internet. When discussing cyber security, we often talk about password hygiene and phishing, but these threats are only part of the cyber security equation. It’s just as important that you and your family, are mindful to not overshare information online that can compromise your personal identity.

Transparency, candor and openness are all admirable traits that cultivate trust, and thereby help to form new bonds and strengthen existing relationships. We know this instinctively, and so we share little tidbits of information to develop a rapport with others. Individuals do this, and so do organizations: the goals and methods are essentially the same.

Admirable as these traits are, in the online world they can become vulnerabilities to be exploited. Once information has been posted, it becomes difficult to control who sees that information. Possible consequences could include socially engineered attacks to steal identities or even to coerce or manipulate people into unethical behaviors.

Sharing your good times with friends, family and colleagues is undeniably fun. In addition to the pleasure of the moment itself, you may get a dopamine buzz from the kudos from your online friends. That sounds like a win-win situation, but if you’re posting photos in real time, then you’re broadcasting not only your current location, but also the fact that you’re not at home. A far better option is to save your photos and share a carefully curated collection after you’ve returned safely.

However, it’s not just about photos you share. Social media is overflowing with quizzes, surveys and opportunities to tell the world about yourself. It’s human nature; most of us love to talk about ourselves or at least share details about our past and preferences. And social media loves that, too, since it gets people engaged and participating. 

There’s just one problem, however: you might inadvertently or even deliberately give away details to strangers which might come back to haunt you.  Social media quizzes often ask the same questions as your account security questions. Some examples include the name of your hometown, the name of your first pet, mother’s maiden name, or your favorite band.

The different questions may not all be asked on the same quiz. But multiple quizzes can elicit enough information that a cybercriminal might be able to access any one of your online accounts. Which can leave you vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.