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Danger lurks in social networking
There are millions of users on social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter who post pictures, message friends and update their statuses daily. But what many people don’t realize is the danger they are in by putting their personal information out for everyone to see.
Lisa Bongiovanni, a junior advertising major, said she was shocked when she discovered how much a stranger could find out about her online.
“I’m in charge of social media for the company I intern with,” Bongiovanni said. “We do a lot with customer service and I was talking with this guy, trying to help him solve his problem on Twitter. The next day, he had found my personal Twitter account and tried to friend me on Facebook.”
Bongiovanni said that since she is only identified by her first name on the company’s Twitter page, it would have taken some sleuthing to find her personal accounts.
“I started to wonder how he could have found me,” Bongiovani said. “I did a Google search with only my first name and the company’s name and was shocked at what came up. My LinkedIn, my Facebook. It was out there for anyone to see.”
Bongiovanni is not the only one who may not realize how easy it is to be found online.
According to a survey done by Webroot Software, 75 percent of respondents don’t restrict any details of their social media profiles from Google searches, over 50 percent aren’t sure who can see their profiles and over 25 percent accept friend requests from strangers.
“Social media websites are a goldmine for cybercriminals,” said Brian Gale, at Webroot. “There are two ways that they can do it. First, they can use things like Facebook and Twitter to spread malware that can steal information and data from your computers. This is why it’s so dangerous to accept requests from people you don’t know.”
Cybercriminals don’t only use social network Web sites for stealing passwords and personal identities. They can also use it to gain information to rob people.
“If you have your home address on your Facebook page, and then you update your status to say that you’re going on vacation, that lets everyone know that your house will be empty,” Gale said. “You have to be careful and realize that everyone can see this information.
Gale advises that social network users take precautions to guard their information online and stay safe. These include
· Set your privacy settings so that only friends can see your information
· Keep your locations broad, don’t put your exact address
· Do not accept friend requests from people who you aren’t friends with in the real world.
“I’m taking a lot more precautions now,” Bongiovanni said. “This really opened up my eyes and now I’m aware of what people can find. I reset all of my accounts to private.”