Big Brother is watching…

We’ve seen some really bad data breaches over the last couple years and in a way, thanks to social media – we now know about them! Having the knowledge has enabled each user to rethink their privacy and all concerns about how much access these sites have. However, some users have NO IDEA what we are talking about. So here’s a quick overview of what people have access to on Social Media and why it worries some of us…

Publicly available information

Every single social network lets you post information that is completely publicly accessible – actually they try encourage it! Publicly available information can be your username, those public posts (video/ image/ written content) or even your entire account. 

So what are “public posts”? Basically these are not blocked behind any kind of access restriction. That means anyone and I mean anyone, including strangers, can view whatever is posted as “public.” Now the tricky thing is, sometimes you share something and don’t even realise that it is SUPER public (we have had some nude whoopsies going around – not us! Someone else). Other than posting it yourself there are other ways that your information may be treated as public without your permission, including:

Default: 

Did you know that Social Media also comes with a default option… This is generally set to public postings. You’ll need to check, depending on the application but you should be able to change a lot of your settings to either “private” or “friends only” – meaning only your homies can see your content. In other cases, some information needs to stay public, like your profile name, so you can’t restrict EVERYTHING, but at least try to keep it to the minimum.

The T&C’s change: 

OMG they changed the privacy policy and didn’t tell us!!! Ok – so that’s generally my reaction because I read the T&C’s, most people don’t and that’s ok, this is why the Cyber Angels are here to break it down for you. Social Media sites can change this policy at any time without your permission – coz you know, you clicked the “I ACCEPT” button when you signed up. Sometimes, but not always, the content that you posted previously that had privacy settings may not be so private anymore because the T&C’s are altered. Watch out on our page – we generally give you a head’s up when this happens!

Friends and Followers: 

Don’t you just hate it when your “friend” copies your stuff and doesn’t give you credit for your post or images? #plagiarism! This is another way that someone bypasses the privacy settings.

APPS, Glorious Apps! 

So without thinking you did this: Logged into this new account using Facebook. Well now that third-party application has been granted access! Sometimes it’s safe and other times it could be a hacked account -WHOOPS-. These applications may be able to view information that you post and could possibly even send your friends private posts without you knowing!

They gotta protect their backsides: 

No social media will guarantee the security of the information that has been uploaded to a profile, even when those posts are set to be private. They also have money to make and while you want them to look after you, you should just look after yourself first! Security flaws and breaches are fixed pretty quickly, by the time we’ve heard about it there is generally a patch. However there is the possibility that other people (bad guys) could take advantage of leaked information.

Behavioural Advertising

Ever had a conversation with your friends about maybe having a gin party next week and then all of a sudden Insta or FB are advertising these weird and wonderful Gin’s or tonics that you can buy? Well, if you didn’t notice it before – YOU WILL NOW!!!

Social media’s have this amazing thing where they can tailor adverts to suit an individual’s interests. 

As you don’t pay for the network’s service, they need to make money somehow and this is generally by advertising, specifically behavioural advertising. Marketeers LOVE this option because you’ll generally buy something that you’ve spoken about, liked on social media or even googled. Isn’t this starting to feel a tad creepy that Big Brother is not only watching, they are listening too?

Third-party Applications

We touched on this earlier, but let’s dive a little bit deeper… Third-party apps are programs that interact with a social network without actually being part of that social network. For example Instagram has some cool features but you sometimes need an app to post for you later (business accounts generally have this) IG can’t do it themselves but it approves another app that can… 

There are a whole bunch of them and you use them for different reasons, not only to post content later but sometimes it’s for polls and quizzes or even to make a picture look different by using additional filters or icons. You may accidentally grant an application access to your profile without realizing the extent of the permissions being granted. Some things to keep in mind when using third-party apps:

  • Social medias will not take responsibility for the third-party applications that interact with their sites. 
  • They may not be covered by the social network’s privacy policy.
  • The 3rd party apps might not be secure.
  • Sometimes they gain more access than they need to perform their functions.
  • There is a chance that they may contain malware designed to attack your device.
  • 3rd party apps could be tattle tales and report your actions back to the original platform.
  • Your app could have agreements with certain sites and apps that allow them access to public information of all users of the social network.

Government & Law enforcement

The po-po and other officials monitor social media for information on all kinds of illegal activities. If there is an investigation, social media sites can cooperate with law enforcement agencies, they don’t always have to but each one has their own procedures with dealing with requests on your personal information.

Employers

Remember that time you did the drunken keg stand and everyone thought it was the best pic around. Your employer might not think the same way! Companies have social media policy that they can fall back on if you say something you shouldn’t online (confidential company or personal information, inappropriate content that could damage yourself or the businesses reputation, etc) but they may very well monitor your content anyway.

Potential employers are also permitted to use whatever information they can gather about an applicant in making a hiring decision. Understanding what information can and can’t be seen by non-contacts is very important to note, including the conclusions drawn from it. You may think something is funny but we may not all have the same sense of humour and written content can be seen in a different view. (IE. WHEN I SPEAK LIKE THIS PEOPLE THINK I’M SHOUTING BUT THAT’S JUST THE WAY I WRITE) We have laws to protect the company and there are laws to protect the employee – be sure to stay in the safe zone and remember to always Think before you post!

Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.
For more information on how to keep yourself, your business and your family safe online follow Cyber Angels SA on any of our Social Media channels. For any information regarding Cyberlinx Security services, please go to our website www.cyberlinx.co.za
Written by: Robyn Bartlett