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Security Considerations of Social Media

by Bryon D Beilman

Social Media is so pervasive in the way businesses,friends and family communicate that it has really enabled people to stay connected, share and communicate with people with whom they ay not normally stay connected. Blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter all provide different ways to share information. Personally, I use all of them, and in different ways. You are reading this blog where I am sharing nuggets I find valuable, LinkedIn has been valuable for keeping in touch with all the people I meet via business transactions and I use Facebook to keep up with Family and Friends. I am sure I am not alone, but as we help companies and of course family and friends with computer security issues, we find many dangers in the social media world. I would like you to envision the following scenario.

    "Hello, thank you for calling Visa, this is Sam, how can I help you?"
    "Yes, this is Veruca Salt, and I changed my address and need a new credit card"
    "OK, Ms. Salt, I can help you, but we need to verify a few things, what is your credit card number?"
    "Of course, it's 1111-2222-3456"
    "Thank you, and please verify your current address"
    "1212 Hamburg Place, Sweetwater, Wyoming, 02345"
    "Thank you and would you please tell us your mothers maiden name?"
    "Wonka"
    "Your date of birth?"
    " May 2, 1965"
    "Ok, can you tell me the name of your high school"
    "Smeltsville High"
    "OK, and since you are doing two changes, we have one more question. What is the name of your first Pet?"
    "Tralfaz"

    Super, Ms. Salt, give me your new address and I will send you a credit card to that address"

Ok, so you may know where I am going with this, but someone glanced at a person's credit card in a diner, and used their camera phone to capture the information. But they really wanted to buy something on that credit card, send it to a fake address and get some valuable goods. So they found that poor Veruca was "all about Facebook". She friended her mom, who was friends with her brother (Veruca's uncle, "Fred Wonka"). She also is part of the Smeltsville High Alumni Facebook group and talked about her first Dog Tralfaz on her blog site, in a very memoral and touching story. All her friends were wishing her Happy Birthday on Facebook on May 2nd and even though she didn't list her year, the Smeltsville, Class of 1983 were talking about getting together and she said she couldn't make it. You can see that she likes the "Sweetwater, Wy Winter Carnival". A quick Google search on public records, shows how she bought a house at 1212 Hamburg Place in 2007.

A common trick is to order something online, like some computers, have it shipped to a real address of someone they know works during the day, and with shipping tracking, someone can walk minutes behind UPS, grab their computers and now poor Veruca has to explain how she never really moved to Sleepmute and did not indeed order 5 laptops.

Parts of these elements have happened to various people I have known, so it's very possible. It's fun to share and be part of a social community, but consider what you share publicly and even privately. You cannot control Google's access to public data but there are alot of things in your control. People worry about young adults sharing more than they should about relationships, parties and things that could affect future jobs. The ordinary, upstanding citizen like Veruca can make themselves vulnerable by just sharing things on-line that they would share in a conversation with their friends.

Be safe, be smart and protect your information.

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