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Social Media: Criminals’ best friend in the digital age

Social Media: Criminals’ best friend in the digital age

With the explosion of social media sites, people have found new ways to communicate with each other and share their lives with the world. This has had an unfortunate side effect. With all the photos, posts and check-in’s people do on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat and other popular social media sites/apps, this allows cybercriminals to glean all kinds of information about anyone. This includes their location, their family, where they go, what they do, their habits, likes, dislikes, and all sorts of other information.

And even privacy settings on most of these sites are hardly a deterrent. Many experienced hackers and social engineers can easily bypass these settings, and learn about your entire life, then break into your accounts to take all sorts of things. Case in point: Selena Gomez.

Recently, Selena Gomez admitted that her accounts, as well as those of her personal assistant, were hacked into, and the hackers stole personal pictures, private information, and who knows what else. The reason they were able to get in was simple. Selena Gomez’s life was an open book. All the hackers had to do was get to the Security Challenge questions, look them up online, and before she knew it, the hackers were in her accounts. They could have done anything from send out fake emails or make fake, often inflammatory, social media posts in her name to ruin her reputation, steal private photos (which already happened to her before), steal money from her bank accounts, and the list goes on. And unless Selena remained vigilant, she would have been none the wiser until it was far too late.

There are many other examples of this, and children are especially vulnerable to this. Reason being, Millenials and minors are some of the biggest consumers of social media, and they post about almost everything going on in their lives. From who’s dating who, their crushes, where they’re going, why they’re so depressed, and online child predators are ready to pounce on this. They take advantage of the vulnerability of these kids, and also follow the kids online so they know where they’re going out in the real world, and show up there as well. There has been a marked increase in child abductions by online predators that followed kids, often talking to them online, gaining their confidence by acting like a kid themselves, or a friendly older person who understands, but whose motives are far from innocent.

This is why it is so critically important for parents to not only monitor what their children do online, as annoyed as it might make them, but to also be judicious in what they as parents post about themselves, their families, and their activities. Trust me, as much as your kids may hate the intrusion into their lives online, it may well be the difference between them being annoyed and them being the victim of a child predator.