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The Cybersecurity Consequences of Online Sharing

Man at a laptop with icons surrounding him including chat, email, social media, etc.

Social websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have made it possible to broadcast virtually any information you desire.

Because of this, many find these websites to be an excellent means of staying connected with past friends and acquaintances as well as a way to meet new people. There are, however, those who would like to misuse the information you willingly supply online to gain access to your private accounts. More than most realize, there is a danger to oversharing or recklessly sharing personal information online. 

What is Reckless Sharing? 

Though most people's ideas of oversharing would be discussing bodily functions at the dinner table, the kind of oversharing we're discussing is the reckless sharing of personal information online. Online reckless sharing is the publishing of information that may provide cybercriminals with details they need to begin mounting cyber attacks on your personal profile, databases, or even financial accounts. Many may be shocked to find what cybercriminals can accomplish with what seems like a handful of benign details. 

Shared Details to Access Password Information

If you've ever set up a new account on virtually any system, you've likely been asked to provide a handful of personal details that you can use to reset or recover your password. These details may be anything from the name of a pet, your mother's maiden name, your first job, where you met your spouse or the like.

Though these are handy pieces of information to use to authenticate your identity when locked out of any account, were these details to fall into the wrong hands, they may be used to allow cyber threats to access these accounts by authenticating these details.

These details may also be used to guess your passwords. It may be time to quit using your dog's name or the date of your wedding anniversary in your passwords. 

Reckless Sharing Can be Used to Spear Phish You

"Phishing" is a cyberattack in which a misleading email is sent to a target with lucrative details — perhaps a link to click or a phone number to call — where cybercriminals can capture sensitive information.

Though these attacks can be quite effective, the majority of people won't trust the messages enough to follow through with the request due to a lack of familiarity with the sender. "Spear Phishing", on the other hand, is when a cyber threat uses personal details to customize their attack. This can be in the form of an email or even phone call that wears a familiar mask — perhaps that of your veterinarian's office, even specifying the name or even specific breed of your pet.

Phone calls or emails may also be masked as being from your children's school, a gym of which you're a member, your place of worship, or even your bank. When you engage in reckless sharing on social media, you're essentially giving cyber threats the details they need to attack you more effectively. 

How to Protect Yourself

Reevaluate Your Online Sharing

Take a moment to scroll through your social media accounts with the mindset of someone looking for details they can use to attack you. If you see an abundance of information that isn't especially useful to family, friends, and acquaintances, you may reconsider sharing such details in the future. You may even consider removing some details from your past posts. 

Reset Your Privacy Settings

Many people who regularly use social media to share their lives will seldom change the default privacy settings. Many default privacy settings leave profiles open to the public — allowing anyone to see your information. Because search engines have become so robust, there may be a considerable amount of details about you available to those who don't even possess an account with that particular social media platform. Instead, dive into the privacy settings for all of your social media accounts to ensure the details you share are only visible to those whom you want seeing them.

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