FutureFive NZ - Social media burglars target Easter vacationers

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Social media burglars target Easter vacationers

Depending on just how active you are on your social media channels, you could be targeted by burglars this Easter. Oversharing on social media this Easter could spell trouble for holidaymakers by exposing themselves to burglars that lurk on social media to find easy targets.

In the USA, it is reported that 78% of burglars use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to check for potential locations to hit.

While half of the fun of going on holiday is sharing photos to create envy in family and friends, it could be your downfall. Criminals will locate empty houses during the holiday period, and in very extreme cases use social media to stalk and confront targets due to knowing their location.

Nick FitzGerald, senior research fellow at ESET, warns of the dangers of oversharing on social media.

“As hard as it may be to resist, preventing yourself from falling victim to a social media burglary is simple,” he says.

“Oversharing may seem safe under the illusion that you are only sharing with ‘friends’, however there might be friends of friends and even strangers with ill-intentions following your posts. In short, don’t share information on social media that you wouldn’t share with a stranger.”

ESET has provided tips for social media safety this Easter.

When at home:

  • Secure your profile: Only connect with people who you actually know.
  • Turn off location services: Ensure that location services aren’t set to automatic, which is the default setting for a large number of social media and sharing apps.
  • Remove EXIF data: Many pictures uploaded to the internet carry information on when and where the photo was taken. This information is known as EXIF data. A tech-savvy burglar will be able to use this data to find out where an image was uploaded from. Visit here for steps on how to remove EXIF data.
  • Think before you share: If you wouldn’t tell a stranger certain information, then don’t upload it to social media.
  • Don’t post expensive household items: Revealing expensive household items on social media, such as new TV’s, cash, art or jewellery just increases your chances of becoming a target for burglars.

When on holiday:

  • Don’t announce your holiday plans: Announcing you are going away for an extended period of time, and specifying exact dates, makes you a prime target for burglars.
  • Don’t post in real-time: Even with EXIF data removed, that photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background might be a bit of a giveaway that you are away for several days. Although it’s hard, try to resist posting your holiday snaps until you’ve returned home. That way, you can still share them with friends and family, however it eliminates the threat of burglars targeting your home.

FitzGerald explained the risks involved with the current social media era and user behaviour.

“We currently live in an era of oversharing. Many can’t resist sharing photos, details of their holiday, and checking-in wherever they go,” he says.

“Now, with Facebook and Instagram live, there are even more opportunities to show the whole world what you are doing, and where, in real time without thinking twice about how this could be used by ill-intentioned people.”

 

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