Social media sites are a great way to interact with other users over the Internet. Unfortunately, a large number of social media users don’t understand the importance of limiting what’s posted on these sites. Attackers regularly use social media sites as reconnaissance tools. It’s no longer surprising to hear about people falling victim to identity theft or networks being infiltrated because of information gathered from social media sites.
Many social media sites allow users to create profiles that can include name, DOB, companies worked for, duration of employment, duties performed, experience, schools attended, and much more. Sites such as LinkedIn allow users to create connections with coworkers, but this also makes it simple to determine a company’s organizational chart in a matter of minutes. All that readily available information means that it wouldn’t be hard to impersonate someone online. It is similar information that makes guessing someone’s security questions easier too. The more information obtained, the easier it is to craft credible attacks, whether it’s gaining access to a system or influencing the target to take a certain action.
What can you do?
Assume that anything you post online is public and permanent.
Don’t post information that may damage you or your company’s reputation.
Be cautious about what you post because any information can be used to carry out additional attacks.
Go through all your privacy settings and restrict who is able to view your profiles.
Connect with people you know.
Like diamonds, your actions online are forever. The idea that you can completely “delete” or “remove” something is a fallacy. When you post, update, or engage online, there are numerous ways that your content gets backed up, repeated, linked, indexed, and otherwise spread across the Internet.
Today’s speed of information sharing means that other users can rebroadcast your statements to any number of profiles and services within seconds, effectively creating thousands and thousands of copies.
Beyond rebroadcasting, search engines actively gather content across the Internet and store it on their databases, even storing the pages themselves. Organizations like Archive.org and the Library of Congress make it their mission to preserve the Internet by copying billions of pages. So one way or another, whatever you post, comment, tweet, or share is immediately captured by something you don’t control—and can’t delete!
Employ what you learned during communications about the responsibility of the sender and the perspective of the receiver. Quick phrases without context, mixed with emotion, and combined with a lack of nonverbal cues are easily misread. Always think about how you want to be viewed, and don’t believe that it doesn’t reflect on you away from the keyboard. If it’s posted online, it does!
Online gaffes are played out online all the time, whether by a politician or a celebrity or even among your friends. Odds are you know someone whose relationship has been affected by something said online. So always take a moment before pressing “enter” and exercise a strict rule about how and when you will engage online. Remember this is ink for the entire world to see, not only immediately, but likely until the end of time.