Can Your Social Media Posts Be Used To Hack You?

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Cyber Security For All podcast.  A podcast all about cybersecurity from Apetech.  I’m your host, Alex and today we are going to be discussing how much personal information you can share online before the hackers come after you. It’s almost impossible to be online these days without sharing personal information.  This information can be information you either willingly disclose or it can also be information you are disclosing without you knowing it.  I’ll be discussing popular internet websites where folks typically share their personal information.  I’ll also be talking about the dangers of sharing your personal information. But, like everything in life, there is a balance.  Sharing some information isn’t going to get you hacked.  But just how much information can you get away with sharing and most importantly, are you sharing too much right now?  Let’s talk about it.

Social media has forever changed our lives.  Almost everyone I know is on some type of social media.  And yes, LinkedIn counts as a type of social media.  With all the different social media platforms that we can be on, our personal information gets shared and viewed more than ever.  And social media platforms make it super easy to share personal details about yourself.  Most of the time, we share information because only our friends and family can see this our posts.  But that’s not always the case.  Unless you manually go into your settings and configure for privacy, most of your information is public for anyone to see.  

With the introduction of stories, people post even more because their stories disappear after 24 hours.  This has created a false sense of security which has led to folks sharing even more personal information.  At this point, you may be asking yourself one of two things.  First, if you do not have social media you may think that none of this applies to you, but what about your spouse?  What about your kids?  Are any of them posting information about themselves or your family?  I know that well known youtubers tend to make it hard for people to find personal details about them online.  Information such as their phone numbers and addresses are redacted from the internet.  But, I know a lot of youtubers that also share their spouses name.  I have then been able to take their spouse’s name and find them on social media or find their personal information such as their address online.  Just because you aren’t posting things doesn’t mean someone else in your family isn’t.  The other thing you might be thinking is that I’m not a popular person and I’m only friends with people I know.  While this may be true, you never know when they might share a post you put with their friends or if you use a hashtag, you never know who is going to see your content. 

So, what’s the big deal if you post a picture of your kids at the park?  How can a hacker attack you based on something as harmless as a picture of your pet?  Everything about you can be used against you.  And this is not limited to only the internet.  Every public facing thing about you can be used to build a profile against you.  You might be surprised to hear this considering that we are almost half way through 20201, but phishing and social engineering attacks are still the #1 to hack into a company.  How does a hacker ensure success of a phishing or social engineering attack?  By exploiting the emotions of employees everywhere.  How do they know what makes us vulnerable inside?  It’s really quite simple.  All the things we post, every picture, every check-in, every tweet, it discloses something about us.  Hackers can then use this information to get inside our heads.  They can use this information as ammunition to craft a social engineering attack that is more likely to succeed because it is going to be very personal.  

With that said, I’m not saying you need to delete yourself from the internet.  Like everything I’m doing here on my podcast, I am creating this to raise awareness.  If you understand how the information you post on social media or on the internet can be used against you, I think it can help you in the long run.  You might craft your messages and photos differently.  I’ve seen many photos where they have geolocation enabled.  I’ve also seen photos that help identify where you were when that picture was taken.  Hackers can use information like this to find you and potentially befriend you in an effort to get you to trust them.  Before you think that is crazy, how many of you dog walkers have made friends with other folks walking their dog?  These are complete strangers yet you share so many personal details of your life with them because you “know” them.  Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not.  Be careful.

We have a lot more to discuss on this topic and I’ll be saving that for a future episode.  

There you have it, your why you shouldn’t post so much personal information about yourself online 101 guide. How much information are you sharing online?  Have you ever stopped to think about what or how that information could be used by a hacker to gain access to a computer system?  What about theft?  Or identity theft?  Posting online isn’t just fuel for hackers, other bad people can use it as well to commit non technical crimes.  One last thing I want to leave you with.  It is natural to want to share your information with your friends and family.  Just make sure your permissions across your applications agree with you.  So many think that only their friends see their posts, but in reality, if the post is public, anyone can see it. 

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