While many of us are stuck at home, we have started to use social media more to stay connected with family and friends. While this seems to be a simple solution to remain connected and pass the time until we can return back to a normal life, there are many bad people around the world that are using this opportunity to scam and hack their way into our lives.
Social media sites are a haven for bad actors and data miners. Recently a string of potentially harmful posts have been popping up across Facebook and Twitter. What may look like a harmless game of “What’s your favorite…” could be an identity theft disaster waiting to happen! I'm sure you've seen the statuses that are being passed around asking different personal questions in a game guised to “get to know you better” like the trend of asking everyone to post their senior picture to 'support the class of 2020' or post their first car, or pictures of their mom, they're favorite vacation spot, etc. These are all designed to mine data about you, your personal life, what year you graduated from which high school, your mother's maiden name, your favorite sports team, your pets names, etc.
Think about typical user names that you use and how you come up with your passwords. With this information, a hacker could potentially identify your usernames, passwords, pass phrases, security questions, and more, giving them access to your bank accounts, email accounts, mortgages, and more. There have even been extreme cases where, with enough information, bad actors have been able to forcefully take over home and land titles, and evict the rightful owners from their own homes.
So the next time you receive a cute message on your favorite social media platform, asking you to answer a series of questions, the safest route would be to not respond, and move on with your day. If you'd really like to answer a survey for your friend then consider sending it in a private message instead. Regardless of how you handle these posts, always set your accounts to private, never accept friend requests from people you don't know, and always double check with anyone you do know to ensure that the request is genuine.