Are We Overexposing Ourselves on Social Networks?

by News Editor on June 5th, 2013 in Security Tips.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social networks have become an essential part of online lives. Social networks are a great approach to stay connected with others, but you should always be aware about how much personal information you post...

A Consumer Reports in 2012 investigation indicates 13 million U.S. Facebook users are oversharing — and likely don’t know it. That figure represents 8 percent of Facebook’s 150 million U.S. users, but it is part of an upward trend in users failing to protect themselves while on the social network — putting themselves at risk in the real world.

Most U.S. tweens, 10- to 12-year-olds, have at least one social media account and many go online without any supervision from their parents, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

Facebook is the most popular platform among tweens. Although the site says users must be at least 13 years old to log on, 85 percent of tweens said they have an account and a similar number admit they use it every day.

The threats to children of unsupervised use of the Internet are well known and range from identity theft, cyberbullying and sharing photos and videos to pornography and sexual predators.

Your social media reputation may also affect the possibility of you finding a job. It used to be that job candidates were judged on their resume, cover letter and references before the in-person interview. But now with social media, job candidates are being fully examined before even stepping foot into a human resources department, and some college students might find themselves at a disadvantage.

According to a survey conducted Abine Inc., an online privacy company, only 60% of graduates are not concerned about their online profiles affecting their ability to secure or keep a job, and experts say a candidate’s online presence and the content they post can make or break a job opportunity.

“Your digital footprint says a lot about you--it’s extremely accessible and the majority of employers are checking it and doing their due diligence on you just like you should do it on them when you’re applying for a job,” says Sarah Downey, privacy analyst at Abine. “There’s a lot of stuff out there that can either hurt you or help you depending on how on top of it you are.”

Here are 5 online dangers that you expose yourself to when connecting with people at any of these social networking sites:

Malware: Being social media today is all the rage it's quite easy to find large volumes of active users at any of these popular sites! This has created a target for those who have a 'twisted'  interest in planting malware on the computers of others! All it takes is for somebody to click on the 'wrong' link and bingo, your hardware or software have now been infected!

Phishing: Scam artist have found a new home on the internet and it suits their purposes perfectly! Where else are these 'bottom feeders' going to find an environment with so many potential and unsuspecting targets! Phishing for sensitive and private information has never been easier than within an environment where connecting with people on a social level is users prime objective! Do you REALLY know who it is you're talking to or sharing your thoughts or information with at these communities?

Damaged Reputation: One of the most common online dangers for anybody who uses social media today is that whatever they say is there for the entire world to see! As a result these sites are typically used as part of a screening process or background check by potential employers or other organizations! Getting 'caught up' in the moment when making comments or offering opinions can easily come back to haunt you!


StaySafeOnline.org has prepared a few tips and tactics for you to follow to ensure that you’re not sharing too much information on social networks:

Have your family follow these tips to safely enjoy social networking:

•    Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.

•    Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research (http://www.microsoft.com/privacy/dpd/research.aspx) found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.

•    Your online reputation can be a good thing:  Recent research (http://www.microsoft.com/privacy/dpd/research.aspx) also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness, and mastery of the environment.

•    Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.

•    Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know trust) more synched up with your daily life.

•    Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them respect those differences.
•    Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.

Protect Yourself with these STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Tips:

•    Keep a clean machine: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
•    Own your online presence: When applicable, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit how you share information.

•    Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.

•    Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.

•    When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.

•    Post only about others as you have them post about you.