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The Social Age: Have We Lost Our Privacy Filters?

By Eze Castle Integration | Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

In an interconnected world, social platforms such as Facebook, have evolved into components of our everyday lives. Real-time updates keep us in the loop with popular events, friends, “liked” company pages, the latest apps and so on. Behavior quizzes offer entertainment to discover your celebrity and fairytale doppelgängers, or breakfast food and ice cream personality matches. To partake in this social extravaganza, we hand over our personal information freely, forgetting its value somewhere between each hashtag and viral post.

It seems that every hour emerging innovations and dynamic social platforms open the threshold of new opportunities to share and attain information. Typical data requested from social sites may include your full name, age, sex, birthday, relatives, photos, account access, etc. However, what most people don’t realize while tuning out to plug in their witty social facts, is the depth of personal data they’re unwittingly dispensing to persons, companies and third parties unknown.

When it comes to social media engines, when did people become the mindless machines pumping out sensitive information?

Security Questions or Status Updates?

Think of other websites you frequently utilize that require passwords and personal details. Perhaps, it’s an online banking service, remote access website or photo library. These sources generally ask us challenge questions as an additional level of security, such as, the make of our first car, hometown city, high school mascot or nickname.

We select these Q&As to safeguard our personal accounts, but overlook other platforms we might have shared this information on previously. Conceivably, if you scroll through your status updates and photos on Facebook you could find all of these personal facts. This is the kind of information social engineers gather to launch an attack.

Browse, Read, Share, Repeat

The Internet of everything is so interconnected these days that it seems routine to grant access from one outlet to the other. So routine in fact that cybercriminals have realized the window of opportunity presented by these information gold mines. Recently, a popular meme climbed the ranks on Facebook known as the stickman “Be Like Bill”. Through the app, users may customize their characters by simply providing their first name and gender on the Blobla website.

Seems harmless enough, right? With the rise of “Be Like Bill” on the web, so too did the heightened interest of scammers. Criminals began creating faux, malicious versions of the app that asked users to sign into Facebook to generate their personal meme. Once the criminals were logged in, they stole account details and infected computers with spyware, viruses and malware.

Additional recent hacks include video gaming site Twitch, toymaker VTech and the latest, open source tool Socat. The latter was announced earlier this week in a security advisory warning of a crypto weakness so severe that it may have been intentionally created to provide criminals a furtive means to eavesdrop on protected communications. 

Adopting Social Awareness

What can we learn from the stickman meme and countless other attacks? Rather than being like Bill, we need to be more aware of the automaticity of our behaviors and tendency to trust sites while browsing the web. The rise of social networking online has reduced privacy expectations across the globe. In this tug-of-war of security and connectivity, users can regain control of their personal information. Instead of dispensing reams of sensitive data, choose to keep what’s private, private. Adopting an alert awareness while interacting on social platforms and thinking twice before your next “like” could go a long way. Conclusively, when it comes to social media, we must all be mindful; rather than machines.

Additional relevant resources:

Hedge Fund Cybersecurity Info Center


Original ​Photo Credit: Google

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