This month has felt like an all-out assault against our privacy here on the good ol’ interwebs.
Accompanying it is a sense of betrayal that we feel for these faceless corporations who don’t seem to care about taking responsibility for the information that we have given them.
What has been risked?
With both the GSC and Yahoo breaches (as well as any other security breach of similar calibre), the key piece of information that is risked is usually the account’s password, which in turn leads to any hacker being able to access risky information such as phone numbers, addresses, full names, photos or perhaps most dangerously any bank account information.
And from here the hackers can either choose to commit identity theft, such as linking your name to dangerous causes, posting private photos online for the titillation of others, or worse yet drain your bank account.
Other examples of data breaches include the Apple Cloud breach of 2015 that led to the leaking of celebrity nudes, as well as the Linux Mint hack this year that led to users downloading malicious software that had access to their computer data.
How You’ve Been Risking Your Own Safety
It should be said though that even without GSC and Yahoo’s intervention, we normal folk on the internet are quite talented at risking our private information on the internet.
Chief offenders have actually been users on Facebook. And as of 2013, “some 13.3 million or 45. 5 per cent of the total population in (Malaysia) are Facebook users”.
Since the number of users has most likely grown since then, especially when some office jobs actually require their workers to have a working Facebook account, more than half of the population is probably at risk.
You know all of those adorable Facebook quizzes that tell you such important information such as your top liked 5 pictures on Facebook, or which cake describes you? It may seem like innocent fun, but you’re risking more than you think.
Before you can even start that quiz to find out which Avengers character you are, you’ll be faced with this familiar sight:
You may not think too much about clicking that blue ‘Allow’ button, especially if the quiz is something regarding your pictures or your friends, but try to step back and read what they are asking for. By clicking allow, you are allowing this page to access your data on Facebook any time that they want, even when you are not taking any quizzes.
According to CIO.com, “CheckMyPersonality.com also authorises its owners to dig up all kinds of information on you. The company states that it may use “third-party service providers” to track down everything from your household income to your buying habits—and then resell that data to marketing agencies.”
What this means is that you don’t know where the information is actually going to and they take no responsibility for how it is used.
Besides just quiz taking, there are other ways that you volunteer your information for free on Facebook.
In early 2016, generous vouchers for well-known retailers such as Zara and H&M made their rounds on Facebook, with the offers seeming too good to be true. All you need to do is to register, share that post to your wall, and wait for the rewards that never come.
This is because none of the retailers are actually affiliated with these quizzes.
It turns out that these were fraudulent offers created by fake profiles, which used social engineering techniques to take advantage of users. Although these cases involved well-known stores, any of Facebook’s users could see their profile copied and stolen.
From there, people can use the stolen identities on Facebook to post things in their name. There is of course a way to get the impostor account removed, but in the meantime your name is still out there perhaps saying things that you don’t believe in.
Social media can indeed be a fun thing, but sometimes internet usage is so normalised in our society that we forget to protect ourselves.
Feature Image Credit: Mr. Robot