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Offline Flyin6

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How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« on: August 17, 2017, 06:24:21 PM »
How Not to Become a Target on Social Media

By Scott Stewart

VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor

 

Stratfor

 
It's August and for much of the world that means it is vacation time. In recent days I've seen ample evidence of this as people have tweeted, posted on Instagram and otherwise announced their vacation plans to the world. In many cases they even provide play-by-play updates. While sharing this information with friends can be fun, these details are being broadcast to a wider audience that is not well known to vacationers, if at all. And this is where the danger lies: Crooks are increasingly finding social media to be a criminal intelligence gold mine.

Nobody's Home

Advertising one's vacation plans is like sending out a notice to criminals that your home may be unoccupied. You may have plans to have the mail picked up and even timers on the lights to make it appear that someone is home, but widely announcing that you will be gone for a week or two is an invitation for criminals to pay a visit. This can be compounded by people posting photos of all their nice belongings on other social media and by either listing their address or having loose privacy and location settings that reveal exactly where the photos were taken. These posts not only tell criminals that the house is vacant, but also show what is worth stealing and where the house is.

 

Unfortunately, with the explosion of social media, more people are increasingly, and unwittingly, providing this information to anyone who is watching. I have seen colleagues who have thousands of followers on Twitter (and certainly they do not know all of them) announce they are not home by posting that they have arrived in airport X or announce that they are going to attend a conference in city Y for a week. They even tag the locations they are posting from. When I see such a post, I grit my teeth because I imagine a criminal thanking them for the information that their house is vacant or that their wife and small children are now home alone. If one wants to share these details on social media, it is far better to do so after the fact rather than before or during travel.

Tracking You

But such compromising information is not merely confined to vacation or other travel plans; it also applies to social media posts that give malefactors notice that a person will be at a specific location at a determined time. For years we've been advising people against setting patterns in their daily routine that criminals or terrorists can use to plan an attack. These warnings apply equally to social media.

 

I have many friends, including several who are female, who post on social media every time they check into the gym. I realize that they are proud of their commitment and like to encourage their workout partners, and that the gym encourages check-ins as a form of advertising ? but such information can make it easy for a rapist or stalker to identify their patterns and plan an attack. Now, certainly someone targeting a woman can develop this information in person, but to do so a criminal would have to conduct physical surveillance, leaving him vulnerable to detection. Posting so much information on social media makes the criminal's work much easier. Because of this I caution friends ? no matter their gender ? against posting this data on social media.

 

The danger does not relate to just women. I recently had to talk with a family member who is a police officer and who was having his Fitbit wrist band post his running routes and times on his Facebook page. This is incredibly dangerous for a cop who has arrested hardened criminals ? especially in this era when police are being targeted for attack. A run is a great time to assault police officers, because they will not be wearing their protective vest, are probably unarmed and may not be practicing good situational awareness ? especially if running with earphones. When I explained this to him, he said that he carefully monitors whom he connects with on Facebook. However, providing this type of granular information is still a dangerous practice when you can't guarantee how secure your friends' accounts are and whether they use robust passwords. Also, there have been numerous cases of stalkers and other criminals using fake accounts to work their way into a target's social media circle. Beyond that, if you post something on social media, it doesn't matter how closely you monitor your connections, there is always a way to find it. Based on these facts, I was able to persuade him to stop posting his running routes and times.

Doxing Yourself

These are but a few examples. Apps and sites continue to multiply as do the number of smartphones, watches and other devices that interact with social media. Most people simply do not realize how much information they are posting to the internet and how that information can be collected and used to target them. While there have been some highly publicized cases of social media being used to prey on celebrities, ordinary people simply don't understand that the threat also trickles down to them too.

 

So far, we have been focusing on physical world criminals, but cybercriminals can also use information provided carelessly on social media. These threats come in a variety of forms, including identity theft, credit card fraud, email scams and phishing attacks. For example, a cybercriminal could see a social media post that a person is on vacation in Mexico and then send an email to everyone on the poster's contact list saying he was in an accident and needed an emergency money transfer.

 

In addition to consciously limiting what they post on social media, people should also develop a detailed understanding of how much of their personal information is available on the internet. The hacker community uses the term "dox," short for documents, to describe the process of sweeping the internet for information on a person. In hacker practice, this information is normally published to publicly identify and embarrass the person being doxed, but this practice can be quite useful for people to do to themselves. By doing this, they can become aware of what a criminal can uncover. This process not only serves to help reveal personal vulnerabilities, but it can also be used to identify gaps in the information required to conduct a crime or attack. Information drives the criminal and attack cycles, and I've written about how identifying and being alert to those gaps can be used to protect against attack. Not only does this concept apply to governments or corporations, but it can ? and indeed should ? also be used by individuals to protect themselves.
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Offline Bob/OlallaWa

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 07:35:10 PM »

Very good points, but  not really much you can do about your ID being out on the net, lots of public information ready and waiting for the wrong person to see. I also worry about the RV not being parked in the yard, or advertisements being thrown out a car window into the drive way. I even worry about the people I talk to about stopping services while we are gone like paper, cable, phone, etc.
We have people drop by, move cars around when they pick up mail and check things out. Park rigs at our place for a couple days while we are gone. I only tell one close neighbor when we are leaving for any length of time. But in the end, I guess that is why we pay for insurance to cover the bad things that can happen. Too easy to get tied down to things that really do not matter in the large picture. You have to be able to do things when you want, life is too short.
 

Offline TexasRedNeck

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2017, 10:33:51 PM »
Bob. Very excellent points. Insurance for things that can be replaced. Lethal force for those that can't. I'm a believer in really good layers of electronic security like alarms, cameras etc. if they want my stuff that bad to defeat those layers, then I have too much stuff. My family is irreplaceable. I believe is layers of non lethal and lethal protection for them.

IMO location services on your devices and the voice operated items like Siri and Alexa are big security leaks.


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Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.

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Offline Bear9350

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2017, 08:14:30 AM »
After one of my more recent visits to the local big box hardware store I checked my phone and noticed that I was being asked to rate my visit.  Generally I have my GPS turned off permanently unless I am actively using it for direction.  It seems that the new updates installed on my phone turned it back on.  With each new phone and software update it seem like it is getting harder and harder to de-activate these features.

Offline stlaser

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2017, 09:08:10 AM »
Bear, my guess is if you have a smart phone you can be tracked to some extent. Whether it's what towers you're pinging off of when making calls or what wifi spots are being used etc.

Only two ways to bypass this, leave phone at home or use burners, neither of which I do.
Learn the rules like a pro so that you can break them like an artist -Pablo Picasso-

Offline TexasRedNeck

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2017, 01:16:37 PM »
One other way, too Shawn.

https://mosequipment.com/products/mission-darkness-small-non-window-faraday-bag?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkZyW_vrg1QIVB49pCh0nVAVzEAAYASABEgLH4_D_BwE

Not that I have or use any of these devices either ;-)

It's no longer a tin foil hat....it's a fine copper mesh


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Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.

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Offline TexasRedNeck

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2017, 01:17:45 PM »
Oh and a friend who works for the company I work for was meeting some Chinese. Our it people said to not even bring a phone. On or off they can hack it just being in the same room.


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Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.

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Offline Bob/OlallaWa

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2017, 01:51:24 PM »
I use an old old flip phone that sometimes hits a cell tower but only if the battery is still charged. Can't buy battery any place so I guess its days are numbered. And how do you deal with OnStar in the autos?

Offline stlaser

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2017, 01:52:44 PM »
& there you have it boys.....
Learn the rules like a pro so that you can break them like an artist -Pablo Picasso-

Offline stlaser

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2017, 01:53:35 PM »
I use an old old flip phone that sometimes hits a cell tower but only if the battery is still charged. Can't buy battery any place so I guess its days are numbered. And how do you deal with OnStar in the autos?

Drive an old jeep....... :popcorn:

Actually the work versions of the newer GM trucks can be ordered without that OS crap FYI
« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 01:55:21 PM by stlaser »
Learn the rules like a pro so that you can break them like an artist -Pablo Picasso-

Offline Bob/OlallaWa

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2017, 05:43:21 PM »
Drive an old jeep? Don't think it would even move my travel trailer down hill...

Offline stlaser

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2017, 06:01:01 PM »
Never underestimate a Jeep, they used to make field plows for them.....
Learn the rules like a pro so that you can break them like an artist -Pablo Picasso-

Offline TexasRedNeck

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2017, 06:08:23 PM »
Bob, no problem moving your trailer. Stopping?? Different story. Might turn it into a plow.....


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Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.

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Offline Bob/OlallaWa

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2017, 08:28:37 PM »
Well, my new old jeep engine isn't in the best of shape. It makes some noise until the oil pressure comes up, when started after sitting for a couple days. Don't think it would like trying to tow my travel trailer at all. I will just make two trips with each rig.

Offline JR

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Re: How Not to Become a Target on Social Media
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2017, 02:07:22 AM »
I always make sure my WiFi is off and have my daughter do the same. I tell her to use the minutes its safer.

Location is always off (asks to turn on all the time!) unless using the gps.

Onstar, pull the fuse. Any vehicle after 2015 has Wifi in it standard. So if you tune or have an issue, they know.
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