Are you oversharing? The pictures you post online reveal more than you might expect.
As some COVID-19 restrictions get lifted, people are spending more time in social places and are very eager to showcase their life outside home online. Visited your favorite restaurant for the first time after lockdown? Better post a picture of the memorable event! At least, that’s what the majority do.
However, not many think of the dangerous outcomes of posting on social media. According to BrandWatch, 3.2 billion images and 720,000 hours of video footage are shared daily, making those people perfect targets for thieves and cybercriminals.
“People share information about themselves in exchange for positive reactions or when they need to vent. However, every picture we post may set off an incident of cybercrime,” says Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN.
While most social media users know they shouldn’t reveal their home address, current location, or phone number on Facebook, many still share entertaining photos or social plans. Such information might seem innocent to share, and potential threats tend to be overlooked.
Are you oversharing?
Since vacation season is upon us and everybody hopes for less strict COVID-19 rules, the expert has made a list of the most common mistakes. If you make at least one of them, have no doubt that you can become a target for hackers frequenting the dark web.
You share your location. You post pictures with location tags of your whereabouts, letting everyone on the internet know where you are and where you live. If you’re on a trip, and the only one guarding your property is your neighbor’s cat, rest assured that criminals will consider breaking in.
You share your address. You take pictures of your house, allowing others to figure out where exactly you live and what items you own. Sharing where you live can do more harm than you think. A Japanese pop star posted a selfie with a reflection of a train station on her eyeball. This minor detail helped a stalker trace her location and sexually assault her.
You vent or rant on social media. Pressure at work, family duties, and social tensions might result in a burning need to vent. Never do that online: what gets on the internet stays there forever. Personal feelings should be shared with close circles rather than publicly.
You post images that contain minors. Even high-profile parents like Pink and Gwyneth Patrow have given up posting pictures of their children. This is not only because of the hateful comments they receive, but also because kids are often mocked at school for being featured in their parents’ snaps.
You share your intimate pictures. This is a classic — engaging in sexting and sharing nudes. The number of image-related crimes grew by a triple-digit during the pandemic, as people engaged in intimate conversations more than usual. As a result, NordVPN’s recent survey revealed that as many as 36% of Brits are highly worried about their stored personal pictures being made public.
You have all the trending social media apps on your device. Choose a few. Do you really need Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and all the other social media apps? These applications have access to your gallery, location, and contacts, meaning they collect and store your data, which might not always be that innocent.
You never turn off Wi-Fi on your mobile device. Your phone is continuously scanning for trusted Wi-Fi networks. Once you get close to your home or work, your device automatically connects to the network it finds. This is convenient, but, along with these constant joining requests, your phone gives out a lot of valuable information about you. There are tools that collect the names of all nearby Wi-Fi hotspots, including your home network. This data is then sent to public websites like Wigle.net, which create heatmaps of Wi-Fi hotspots. Anyone can find your home address — even a non-techie stalker from your college or office.
You use your work device for personal needs. Are you guilty of browsing X-rated content, looking for a new job, or shopping online on your work computer? It is very likely that your boss or the tech guy will know about it. Your internet service provider keeps logs of where you go and what pages you visit. Keep your personal matters on your personal devices. And use a VPN to keep your private affairs really private.
You use the same password or its variations for multiple accounts. If you use the same password on multiple platforms, you are making it easier for hackers to get to your private accounts. Additionally, don’t risk it by using the most popular passwords of 2020, as identified by NordPass’s research. For example, ‘123456’ has been breached more than 23 million times and takes a second to crack. Among others are ‘picture1′, ‘password’, ‘senha’, ‘qwerty’, ‘abc123′, ‘Million2′, ‘iloveyou’, ‘password1′, and others.
You never check the background of the picture you are about to post. The last piece of advice is to simply follow common sense. Surely, anyone can make a mistake, just like Lisa Kudrow, who accidentally posted a picture containing a post-it note with her passwords. Consider the internet a public space — everyone can see you both from the good angles and the bad.
“Besides cyber threats, it’s fun to post photos and let everyone know you’re having a cocktail at a nearby bar, but that sends a clear signal to burglars that your home is empty,” Daniel Markuson adds. “Even the people who feel sufficiently educated about online privacy still reveal their personal details online. Millennials especially tend to post their social activities online.”
NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider used by over 14 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion Over VPN. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, and is P2P-friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy. For more information: nordvpn.com.