Did You Know Something as Simple as Sharing Photos on Social Media Can Increase Your Odds of a Cyber Attack?

By Madison F

Many people worry about threats they can see, but what about the ones you can't? A study was conducted that showed Americans check their phones 46 times a day. During that time you are giving out all sorts of information even if you don't know it. Did you know that your cell phone carrier always knows where your phone is due to cell towers? Think of how often you have your phone on you, if someone were to hack into this data, they could find your exact location. Are you aware that your baby monitor can be hacked, or even your printer? Anything that is connected to a network is at risk.

In 2015 a mother in Lacey, Washington heard a woman's voice coming from her son's baby monitor. The son's mother said "for months, my son was telling his family that the 'telephone' was telling him to stay in bed". At first when the mother heard the voice she was confused, and brushed it off. A couple hours later she heard it again and went to check on her baby. When she entered the room a woman's voice said "oh, watch this one, she's coming in again". The mom says that the camera was moving around.

Earlier that year, a family in Minnesota found pictures of their baby online due to their hacked baby monitor. Experts said that baby monitor hacking is a growing crime. Back in 2014, the United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's Office warned the public about a Russian website that was live-streaming video footage from thousands of web cams, including baby monitors.

The National Cyber Security Center has weekly threat reports. During their weekly report from May 25th, 2018 they talked about "sharenting". This is when a parent shares their family's life on the Internet. Research has indicated that this can actually increase a child's risk of having their identify stolen. If a birthday photo is put online, then it tells the entire Internet when the child's birthday is, and if the child's age is posted then this gives the day, month, and year. Did you ever post a picture of your beautiful newborn baby on Facebook to announce their birth? It isn't uncommon to have information along with the picture that has the date, time, full name of the baby, parents, and even some have the city the precious child was born in.

Sharing a picture of a child's first pet can give people access to the common security question of a person's first pet further down the child's life. This can lead to bank accounts being hacked, or other secure sites. Information that is posted about the child's life could even increase the odds of passwords being guessed in the child's future. All this information is available to anyone on the Internet. All that is needed is a keyboard and a little knowledge of what to look for. Remember, once something is posted, it can never truly be deleted. There will always be some trace left.


So What Can Be Done?

How do you prepare for an attacker you can't even see? An attacker you might not even be aware of. Luckily, there are many ways to decrease your risk of attack. The Federal Bureau-Investigation has given the following ways to protect your computer:

  • Have and keep your firewall on
  • Install/update antivirus softwares
  • Install/update antispyware
  • Keep the operating system up to date
  • Be wary of what you download
  • Turn your computer off (when a computer is always on, it makes it more susceptible to attackers)

If you have reason to believe that an attack has occurred, FEMA advises to do the following:

  • Immediately change all your passwords
  • Scan and clean your devices
  • Depending on the content on the device, you should consider turning off the device, and getting it professionally scanned and cleaned
  • Contact your bank, credit card company, and any other financial accounts you have
  • Report the attack
    • This should be done to the Office of the Inspector General. These are the people who will look for any social security fraud
      • https://www.identitytheft.gov/
    • The other place to report the attack is to the FBI Crime Complaint Center
      • https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

Knowledge is power. Being aware of risks can help you to better protect yourself, and your family. Simply censoring information on your posts and photos can reduce the risk of identify theft. Ensuring that your children know not to post information like their address, phone number, full name, and birth date can help keep their privacy intact. The best piece of advice would be to think twice before sharing that picture. Don't have the same password for everything, and change your passwords periodically. Some might even want to consider limiting the devices in the house that hook up to the network. However you decide to best protect yourself from these invisible threats, make sure your do something to prepare yourself and your family.


If you are in need of more ideas on how to prepare, we have provided more information below.

For more information go to the following sites:
  • https://www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect
  • https://www.ready.gov/cybersecurity
  • https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyber
  • https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/identity-theft
  • https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/cac

The following site is a free and fun way to teach children from 3rd-8th grade about cyber safety

  • https://sos.fbi.gov/

Jack Foster's "21 Terrifying Cyber Crime Statistics"

"5 Craziest Cyber Attacks of All Time"

"The Worst Cyber Attacks 2017"

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