Social Networks and Personal Data Can Be a Costly Mix

I urge you to think about this question: Are you exposing yourself online?  Social media has exploded, and millions of us are posting our most private information for the world to see.  While there are many good reasons to use social media, realize you may be giving away details that could be used to hack your accounts or break into your house.

Sarah Palin had her email exposed by using publically-available information as her password.  “As detailed in the postings, the Palin hack didn’t require any real skill. Instead, the hacker simply reset Palin’s password using her birthdate, ZIP code, and information about where she met her spouse — the security question on her Yahoo account, which was answered (Wasilla High) by a simple Google search.”

Most recently a hacker claims he hacked Mitt Romney’s email account after answering the security question: ‘What is your favorite pet?,’ that is what the anonymous tipster wrote in an email to Gawker.

From high school sweethearts to pets, the personal information we enter online can make us vulnerable. Do you post pictures of your dog tagged with his name on Facebook?  And if you do, is any part of your password your dog’s name? I honestly don’t think most of us realize the exploitability of this behavior.

While many social networks have stepped up to the plate by providing safeguards rather recently, many of us are just not thinking about how seemingly innocent facts about our lives can be misused, and some are just not concerned — until something happens to us as individuals.  People I know who have experienced identity theft, a computer infection, or some sort of scam, had publically provided specific and accurate details about their lives.

Here are six common things people do to expose themselves:

One of the things that concerns me most is when people tell the world they are about to have a baby and then include the countdown to the birth.  Why would anyone tell the world when they are in one of their most vulnerable states and with such valuable cargo?

As information about each of us is amassed, we become more apt to be targets.  Think about what information you are sharing, and share carefully.

Have you had your privacy exposed by sharing personal information that was seemingly innocent?  What advice do you have to give?
Susan Prescott Technology Security Principal AT&T About Susan