How using Social Media or a Smartphone Risks Your Identity Every Day

The article presents 5 ways that you might compromise your identity with the seemingly innocent utilization of social media and Smartphones. I have focused on three in particular.

Think playing Facebook games is harmless? Not so fast.

Companies like Zynga, capture your profile information and give third-party clients access to your account details. This was recently discovered as a “Security Hole” by Symantec. It was not limited to Facebook photos or comments, but access tokens with users credentials, were accidentally given to advertisers and developers.

“What other social network are you going to use — MySpace?”

Facebook can be considered potentially negligent here as they are not aware of what activities are happening on their servers. Facebook app viruses have also been a recent and growing phenomena.

Although Facebook’s official policy bars apps to send user data to third-parties a Wall Street Journal audit found that 10 of the Top 10 apps were in violation of this policy. Information included names, preferences and friend lists.  There is no enforcement.

What could be wrong with Following Celebrities on Twitter?

One of the primary uses of Twitter has been to obsessively follow the mundane lives of celebrities and slavishly hang on to every 140 character message they utter.  This leads to a blind-faith following in many instances which not so scrupulous individuals are keen to take advantage of. Most twitter celebrity accounts are very easy to break into. This has ranged from Fox news recently declaring President Obama assassinated, to previous episodes for Britney Spears, Rick Sanchez, Lady Gaga etc.

Once the accounts are hacked, the hackers send out tweets to their followers to perform certain actions, which they willingly comply with. Actor Simon Pegg’s account instructed followers to “download a screensaver” which was a Trojan horse setup to steal online Banking information. A purported tweet from Lady Gaga to download a new music video resulted in 9.6 million downloads of a virus which attempted to hijack individuals twitter accounts.

“Download my  banned – due to sex and drugs – Music Video”


Smartphones are safe to use?

Thought you might be ok if you manage your privacy settings and disable storing of that pesky location info you recently read on the news. Maybe not… The ability to “opt out” of location sharing is only really offered as a “wink wink, nudge nudge” sort of deal. Do you really read the legalese notice before installing?

Android/iOS  apps are required to inform you of just what parts of your phone they need to access. That’s how it is supposed to work in a perfect world, but in reality advertisers can’t help themselves, to the treasure trove of personal data on your phone.  A Penn State University study found out of 30 popular android apps two-thirds misused private user data.

You probably might be ok with a location-based app using your GPS data to provide you with a service, but you may not be OK with that same app sending that data off to a marketing firm along with your phone number.

“Hey, Sandra! This is Anne with ACME Marketing. I’ll be calling you three times a day at wildly unpredictable hours until you decide it’s time for Botox.”

Some popular apps, like Color, use your handset’s microphone to pick up ambient sound data about your surroundings. You think this might be mentioned in the end user agreement, you would be wrong…

Well are you safe if you boycott downloading and using apps, not really, remember the incident with Apple tracking and storing your unencrypted location data.

“We feel super terrible. Please continue to send us money.”

With the growing use of social media and mobile geo-location platforms the risk for identity theft, loss of personal information and electronic theft also increases exponentially. Considering there is no regulatory oversight on the horizon, will this affect your behavior on Facebook and Twitter and make you more cautious of the apps that you install on your Smartphone???


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