Most of us are on social media, and we know the main risks.
While we can’t always control what others do, we can do our part to avoid the pitfalls.
It’s the information superhighway.
Just a click of the mouse or a swipe of a screen and the world is at our fingertips.
And so is our personal information… In a strangers hands…. if we aren’t careful.
We asked people at the Prattville Cityfest about their experiences online.
The first three people we asked all had a story.
“There are just so many people out there who are looking to get your password. Not too long ago, I had my email account, my bank account, Paypal, all of that was hacked at the exact same time. It was a hassle to get everything straightened back out,” said Amanda Morris.
“I had bought some items on ebay, and now they say they hacked them off ebay. So now I am very cautious about online shopping. I have a special card for nothing but online shopping, and I monitor it very closely,” said Lisa Sherrill.
“This guy messaged me and he said, ‘hey, I’m going to send you some money.’ So I just joked around and played along with it because I knew about it. He was like, ‘go buy a Visa prepaid card at Walmart and put 90 dollars on it, and send it to me, and I’ll send you 14 hundred.’ And I was like that makes no sense,” said Adam Hunt.
That’s why universities across the country are implementing more and more cyber security majors, including AUM.
“The field of cyber security and internet technology and all these different kind of ways to verbalize it, is a hugely booming and growing field. It’s one of the few fields where no matter how many people we train and put through school, we always have a greater need the following year,” said AUM assistant professor Dr. Patrick Pape.
Pape is an assistant professor at AUM in internet technologies.
He says you have to be very careful about what you post on the internet.
“What you posted on Twitter a year ago, it’s still sitting on the servers at Twitter or Instagram or any of these social media sites. Your banking information, anything that goes out on the web, is kind of out of your hands at that point. You kind of leave it up to the companies, the websites that you are interacting with to secure that data, but it all comes down to you as a person to use common sense and just consider am I comfortable putting this information out there?” said Pape.
Pape says one of the biggest problems is oversharing on social media.
“‘My family is on vacation. We are out all week. We are looking forward to getting back to work.’ Now I know you are out from your home all week, and depending on how much information I get from your Facebook, I might know where you live or information about you,” said Pape.
But you may be thinking you know all of your friends on social media and you can trust them… Well, think again.
“You may know everyone on your friend’s list. But you never know if someone has fallen victim to a scam or a hacking scheme and now it’s their account, but someone else can gain access to that,” said Pape.
And of course, there’s your password.
Most sites encourage you to create a long, difficult password with lots of numbers, letters and symbols. There is a reason for that.
“Nothing in your password should relate to you as an individual because if I know anything about you from looking at your Facebook, well now I can pick and guess what your password might be. And obviously ‘password’ is not a good password, but you still have people do that all the time. ‘1,2,3,4,5’… Things like this. They just don’t work. It’s a hassle to have to do those things but you have to consider what happens if somebody figures this password out. Is it more of a hassle to have your banking information out there or to come up with and responsibly use a strong, complex password?” said Pape.
And what about those seemingly innocent quizzes you see online? The ones that ask for your friends list and location.
“If I take my car to the mechanic, it would be completely unreasonable for the mechanic to say ‘hey, can I get your contacts list?’ Or ‘where are you going to be tomorrow afternoon?’ Why does a mechanic need to know that? But at the same time, we will download quizzes or games or applications that say, ‘I need your location information and the numbers in your contact list.’ Why do they need those, you know?” said Pape.
The bottom line? Be careful.
In this day and age of cyber space, you never know who is watching and how easily they can get your information.
“It’s convenient, everyone uses Facebook. But at the same time you have to consider who has access to this information? So at the end of the day it always comes back to you as the user, the consumer, what am I comfortable with potentially complete strangers knowing about me?” said Pape.