Social Media Security: Beware the urge to “over-share”


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WEST HAVEN, Conn (WTNH)–Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and and Tumblr. The more you post, the more exposed and vulnerable you can become.

“A lot of people, they put their whole life online,” said Frank Breitinger an assistant Professor at the University of New Haven. “It is dangerous, you should really rethink information you put out there.”

Take the most popular posts–pictures.

“Goldmine, absolute goldmine. I can find absolutely everything and anything about that person the more they post,” said Robert Schmicker with the UNH cyber forensics lab.

News 8 asked the cyber forensic team to dig into data from posts from social media services like Tumblr.

What they found was startling.

Looking at random people posting pictures, they were able to find the locations of where the picture was taken. Data embedded in the photos provides an exact geographical location.

“We can see this is where she lives here …she works over here, she goes to school down over here,” said Schmicker.

They can track exact locations, like your home, apartment or workplace.

“Down to 30 feet we can figure out where they are,” said Schmicker.

We snapped a few selfies.

In the studio, out to lunch and while on assignment in the field.

Just from the posts they can map a persons movements.

“All this information we were able to find in about half an hour,” said Schmicker.

There is more, many don’t think about what is “in” those pictures they post.

“More pictures of herself, but then more importantly, because she likes her car so much we were able to figure out her license plate number and from that her vin number, the make of the car and more information,’ said Schmicker.

Cuddly pets. Cute kids.

All indicators that can lead crooks to possible passwords.

It’s an ugly ending.

Identity theft, financial fraud and cleaned out bank accounts.

“Think of the security questions that they have. When I had to open my bank account, I had to answers three questions. The street where I grew up, name of best friend…support of your soccer team. All these kinds of questions. I’M pretty positive I can answer 95 percent of those questions by looking at your FB profile”

How can you protect yourself?

The Cyber Forensic team at the University of New Haven has a few tips.

  • Think twice before you post. How important is it?
  • Change your privacy settings, make sure you know “who” can access your information.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you do not know.