A theft committed at a residence, after a family tweeted their family vacation plans;
A teenage girl commits suicide after she was harassed by followers of on FB ‘hate page’ targeting her;
Sexual assault on minors who unwittingly befriended unknown people online, who later bullied them into having ‘consensual’ sex with them;
Private photos shared with friends ending up on commercials or on porn sites….
These are all actual, real cyber and personal crimes, not something I’ve cooked up to grab attention. But the sad fact is, we all are contributing in some way to these incidents.
No, you don’t think so?
How many of you are guilty of this?
So we went to a new place to vacation? Let’s post as many selfies as possible and let them know exactly what the interiors of our hotel looked like.
We bought new merchandise? Gotta tweet, instagram or snapchat about just how much we love it!
We went for the movies? Gotta post about it, with location.
We’re getting bored? Let’s start a live video, at home, sitting in our bathrooms!
Oh, is that a new shopping website that we haven’t checked out yet? Let’s start by first making an account and connecting it to all our networking sites AND our bank/PayPal/Paytm accounts.
Oh, and let the whole world know that ‘home’ means ‘XYZ’ building and road ‘coz we’ve got GPS. Oh yeah, baby!
You still think you aren’t oversharing? Think again.
Here’s my very own experience.
I shop a lot online, and even though I’d like to say I’m generally careful about what information and how much of it I divulge online, I’ve had my moments of stupidity. So there was a phase when I was doing a lot of online shopping and sharing my information on this and that site. Ditto with my husband. Then it happened to us.
I got a call from my bank asking me if I was trying to do a foreign transaction. When I denied it, they told me someone was repeatedly attempting to use my account information to shop from several international or foreign websites, and that they’d have to block my online account. My card was hotlisted too, and I was saved in the nick of time, but two weeks later, exactly the same thing happened to my husband.
We raked our brains about why and how, inspite of all the safety measures we take, all the reviews we read about the sites we shop on, and routine checks on our accounts, did this happen to us. The answer was – we overshared and we were unlucky.
It’s scary to think how an absolute stranger can just stumble across your name on social media and then hop from one site to another, gathering details about you, sending you requests from each networking site, or mapping your activity, unless you’re very careful, all because you shared your personal details on social media. FYI, that too has happened to me 😦
More often than not, the real culprit behind every cyber crime is our propensity to overshare and self-advertise on the internet, particularly on social media. We may think what we are sharing is only limited to our friends and family, but the truth is, there are several ways in which you may be exposing personal information unknowingly, to third parties and even third party marketing websites.
This list consists only a few examples of potential sources of cyber threats to your privacy:
- Unsecured Personal Details on Social Media (includes your real or full name, age, date of birth, residence, phone numbers, your relatives and friends and their details).
- Online games/puzzles/quizzes etc. that require you to share it with and/or add friends.
- Sites that require you to ‘agree’ to access to your contacts list, friends or pictures.
- Search engines where you stay logged in and/or authorize saving passwords.
- Having the same password for every site and not frequently changing them.
- Keeping predictable passwords.
- Posting pictures on sites that allow them to be publicly available.
- Not optimizing or using your privacy settings on social media.
Naturally, the way to avoid privacy invasion or identity theft would be to avoid doing the above listed things. However, the sure-shot way of safeguarding your personal information is to limit your presence online or carefully monitor what you share. If you won’t share details about your new dress with a stranger on the road, there’s no reason why you should share it with the public at large. Sitting behind a screen does not, of itself, give you protection from all kinds of threats. In fact, it makes you more vulnerable because of our tendency to become lax about maintaining privacy.
So next time, before you itch to share, think about whether you truly need to advertise yourself, be frugal with your information online, and beware what you share.