WARNING: 3 Dangerous Ways You Could Expose Yourself On Social Media
Just ask Kim Kardashian about the potential pitfalls of oversharing
Last month, Kim Kardashian sat down with 60 Minutes reporter Bill Whitaker to talk about her life in the (very) public eye.
“There are pitfalls—lack of privacy, loss of privacy—and that might not be for everyone,” said Kardashian, who boasts almost 86 million Instagram followers.
“For me,” Kardashian said, “I can handle it.”
Shortly after the interview, Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in Paris for millions of dollars worth of jewelry. She had shared a picture of a $4.5 million ring on her Instagram account three days prior.
You may not be as famous as Kardashian. But every time you post on social media, you raise your risk for being the victim of a cyber crime.
Want to keep your Instagram followers and keep yourself safe? Fix these social-media flubs, stat.
1. DON’T LEAK YOUR LOCATION
The screwup: Whenever you post a photo online, it’s secretly tagged with metadata—bits of information that include when and where the picture was taken.
The solution: Erase the metadata before you post, suggests Bradley S. Shear, a social media reputation expert and managing partner at Shear Law.
This can be as easy as unchecking or turning off the “Add Location” option on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. But to be extra safe, run your photos through a metadata-scrubbing app like Metapho (free for iOS) to wipe away every potentially revealing tidbit.
2. DON’T TRUST PUBLIC WIFI
The screwup: Every time you connect to a public WiFi network, you’re taking a huge leap of faith that the network is secure.
Even when you’re working at a Starbucks and you connect to the network that says “Starbucks,” you’re relaying sensitive information over a public digital environment.
Cybercriminals may set up fake networks that appear legit and wait to steal your data, but they can also find their way into already-secure public networks—just like the one at your favorite bookstore or coffee shop.
The solution: Use a VPN, or virtual private network, when using public WiFi on your laptop. Most modern operating systems already come with a VPN client.
Think of it as a tiny fortress of security within a wider public Internet space: If you log onto an open WIFI network using a VPN, no one can mess with your data.
Alternatively, if you’re browsing the Internet on your phone, just use your data in lieu of WiFi. “It’s more secure than wireless,” says Michael Kaiser, executive director of the non-profit National Cyber Security Alliance.
3. DON’T OVERSHARE
The screwup: We live in an age of oversharing. But the more selfies, angry tweets, and political diatribes you post, the more you shoot your future self in the foot, Shear says—especially when it comes time to job hunt.
“Employers are always looking for reasons not to hire somebody,” says Shear. “If you’re ranting and raving online, that doesn’t bode well for your ability to interact with others professionally.”
Additionally, the more you publish online, the more information cybercriminals can acquire about your life, says Kaiser. Your gym selfie advertises where and when you work out, for example, which indicates when you won’t be home.
The solution: Keep your private thoughts—and current location—private.
You don’t need to go live in a cave, though. Most apps these days come with rigid privacy controls to determine exactly who sees what. Take advantage of them.