Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Privacy issues and identity theft in the social media are a growing concern. Most people who post personal information about themselves do so not recognizing the consequences of their actions, or simply don’t care that their entire life is an open book.

Ask yourself this question; if I was the director the Untied States Central intelligence Agency, which is responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior US policymakers, including the President, who nominated me, and I manage the operations, personnel, and budget of the Central Intelligence Agency, should I or my wife have a Facebook page?

The International Association of Privacy Professionals and the UKs TimesOnline reported the wife of Sir John Sawers, incoming head of the UK’s version of the CIA called “MI6”, posted sensitive information about him to her Facebook page, including the address of a London apartment used by the couple. Also posted to his wife’s account was a family photo that included her half brother, an associate of a convicted Holocaust Denier. The postings came under criticism as potentially exposing Sawers to terrorism, criticism and blackmail. Patrick Mercer, Conservative chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism subcommittee, told the London Times, “We can’t have the head of MI6 being compromised by having personal details of his life being posted on Facebook.”

Is it OK for the US Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta or his wife to post their vacation photos, kids names, addresses, and other private data on Facebook? NO. Is it OK for you to do it? You say, “well, I’m not the director of the CIA or a high profile target.” You may not be a high profile target, but you may still be a target at some level and the more intelligence you provide an attacker or a criminal hacker the easier you make it for them. The Florida couple who was recently murdered in their home who had devoted their lives to adopting disabled children and raising them were probably the salt of the earth and never saw themselves as being targets either.

Nobody ever considers themselves a target until they are. Look, I’m no paranoid freak; I’m a grounded, down to earth, conscious being that has an awareness of what’s going out there. And when I see you post information that someone sinister can use against you, I worry.

If you are on social media and regularly update your status with information such as pictures, video, routines, and other data please keep the following in mind:

1. Before you post anything at all online think about what can be done with this data by a hacker, stalker, employer, potential employer or your soon to be Ex who may be fighting for custody and use the data in court.
2. Do not be specific about anything you post. Don’t post kids names, addresses, birthdates, (D.O.B, I’m guilty of this but I have protection), pets names, phone numbers or any account numbers or financial information of any kind. You shouldn’t even post kids photos online.
3. Don’t tell the world you are going on vacation!!!!!!! If you are out of the house for any period of time, going to dinner, at the beach, and aren’t coming back for hours, don’t let burglars know you are away.
4. If you are a “partier” and like to imbibe, telling the world you just smoked a joint is not only the worst thing you can do for your career, it also makes all those who you are friends with guilty by association. And don’t tell everyone you are hung-over, because after the age of 23, you should know better.
5. Before posting multimedia, pics, vids etc, look at it and think like a bad guy or even a potential employer and ask yourself if it can be used against you in any way.
6. DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 16 USE SOCIAL MEDIA WITHOUT YOU MONITORING EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF THEIR INTERNET ACTIVITIES. Regardless of age pick up McAfee Family Protection and install this RIGHT NOW so you know exactly what goes on your child’s computer.
7. Go to your privacy settings and lock down your profile so people have to bug you to open up only the certain parts you are willing to open to certain people.
8. Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
9. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

Social media is less than 6 years old. This is a brand new medium that has consequences we are now just beginning to recognize. Something as harmless as posting a photo of a naked baby in a tub is being used by pedophiles who trade the photos online. The world is changing. Recognize what you are doing in the social media and be smart about it.

Robert Siciliano identity theft speaker discussing social media on Fox

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