How Posting Pictures of Your Pet Puts Your Security at Risk
Social media is a wonderful, complicated, powerful and scary thing. It’s an easy way to quickly spread news and information, appeal for help or network for jobs, but it’s also loaded with negativity and bullying. Social networking sites are a web of nasty posts and useful advice interspersed with adorable pictures of puppies, kittens and small animals, providing a fun reprieve from all the doom and gloom. However, sharing all those cute photos is actually putting your cyber security (and your pet’s mental health!) at serious risk.
Take a second and think about your password(s). Is it some sort of combination of important dates and your pet’s name? If you’re part of the 34 percent that use a pet’s name, you might want to make a change. Any fledgling hacker can scroll through your profile, get your pet’s name off a recent post and use it to get access to all your sensitive information.
Even if you’re part of the 56 percent that have very complex passwords, what about security questions? Almost every set of them has an answer that revolves around either your current or previous pet’s name. Not only could a hacker use this information to easily bypass the second set of security that surrounds existing profiles, they could also set up fake profiles or accounts on your behalf, using them to open credit cards or take out loans.
The simplest solution would be to cease posting pictures of your pet on Facebook and Instagram, but let’s be honest: Seeing cute animals can make someone’s day, and I’m not going to be the bad guy who tries to put an end to that. Start off with adjusting your privacy settings. You can change your profile so only your friends can view your posts, and then weed through your friends/followers to make sure you’re only connected with people you can trust. Or, if you’d like to keep your pet in the spotlight, just refrain from using their name (or nickname) in public posts. Of course, there’s always the option of simply changing your password or picking a different security question.
As time passes and it gets harder to keep your personal information secure, a little common sense and critical thinking will take you a long way.