Sponsor Robert Siciliano as he runs the Boston Marathon for Miles for Miracles, Children's Hospital Boston
ROBERT SICILIANO is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds.


Check here if you're human


Social Media Privacy and Personal Security Issues

Pin It

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

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

Ask yourself, should the director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, which is responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior U.S. policymakers, including the President, and who manages the operations, personnel, and budget of the CIA, have a Facebook page? Should his wife? Sir John Sawers is the incoming head of MI6, essentially the British equivalent of the CIA. His wife posted sensitive personal information to her Facebook page, including the address of the couple’s London apartment and the locations of their children and Sir John’s parents. She also posted family photos that included her half-brother, who was an associate and researcher for a historian who has been convicted of Holocaust denial. Her Facebook profile was left open to anyone in the London network.

Patrick Mercer, Conservative chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism subcommittee, has pointed out that these types of Facebook postings leave Sir John Sawers open to criticism and potentially, blackmail. “We can’t have the head of MI6 being compromised by having personal details of his life being posted on Facebook,” Mercer told The Times. “As a long-serving diplomat and ambassador, his family have been involved in his line of business for decades. I would have hoped they would have been much more sensitive to potential security compromises like this.”

Would it be okay for U.S. CIA director Leon Panetta or his wife to post their addresses, vacation photos, childrens’ names and other personal data on Facebook? No! Is it okay for you to do it? You say, “Well, I’m not the director of the CIA.” While you may not be a high profile target, you can still be a target on some level, and the more intelligence you make available to potential attackers or criminal hackers, the easier you make it for them to harm you. Nobody ever considers themselves a target until it’s too late. I’m not a paranoid freak, I’m a grounded, down-to-earth, conscious being with an awareness of what’s going on out there. And when I see you post information that someone sinister could use against you, I worry.

If you use social media and regularly update your status or profile with pictures, video, or information about your whereabouts or daily routines, please keep the following advice in mind:

  1. Before you post anything online, think about what a hacker, stalker, employer, or potential employer could do with that data. Could an ex, who’s fighting for custody, use the data against you in court?
  2. Don’t give away specifics. Don’t post your address, date of birth, kids’ names, pets’ names, phone numbers, or any account numbers or financial information of any kind. You really shouldn’t even post childrens’ photos online.
  3. Do not tell the world you are going on vacation! Or if you’re just going to dinner or the beach and won’t be at your house for several hours, why would you let potential burglars know that you’re away?
  4. If you’re a “partier” and like to imbibe, informing the world that you just smoked a joint is not only one of the worst things you could do for your career, it also makes all your friends guilty by association. And don’t announce that you’re hungover, because after the age of 23, you ought to know better.
  5. Before posting pictures or videos, consider what a criminal or potential employer might see. Could they be used against you in any way?
  6. If you let your kids use social media, you must monitor every aspect of their Internet activities. Pick up McAfee’s Family Protection software and take control of your childrens’ Internet use.
  7. Take advantage of privacy settings and lock down your profile, so that only those who you approve can view everything.
  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 six years old. This is a brand new medium, and we are just now beginning to recognize its potential consequences. Something as harmless as a picture of a baby in a tub could be traded online by pedophiles. The world is changing. Be aware of your social media use, and be smart about it.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses social media on Fox.

About the Author
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.

Similar Posts

  • Social Media Banned, Creates Identity Theft Risk
    Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert The Marines recently banned soldiers from using social media sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. This is for two reasons. First, because they fear that these sites’ lack of security may allow malware to infiltrate government computers. And second, they’re concerned about the potential for leaked military data. Military personnel
  • Police Warn Burglars Are Using Social Networks
    The sage advice used to be “don’t tell the world you are on vacation via your outgoing answering machine.” Then we pretty much eliminated answering machines and the advice pertained to voicemail. As we got more technology, the same message was don’t tell the world you are on vacation via your emails auto responder. For a
  • Social Media Identity Theft leads to Arrest
    Are you one who believes you’re too smart, too savvy, to get your identity stolen in the social media world? Nobody thinks this will happen to them, and Stephanie Francis, 24, was no exception to that way of thinking. A report from firstcoastnews.com that the Jacksonville, Florida woman claims her identity was stolen—on social media of
  • 15 Facebook Fiascos to Watch Out For
    The following 15 activities, all of which are facilitated by Facebook and other social networking websites, are causing lots of heartache and headaches: 1. Posting illegal activities. In the little town where I grew up, 30 kids recently faced the wrath of their parents, school officials, law enforcement, and the Boston media, all because someone posted
  • Identity Thieves Gather Data From Social Networks
    Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert There’s a lot of excessive trust in the Facebook world. People have entirely dropped their sense of cynicism when logged on. Apparently, they see no reason to distrust. Generally, your “friends” are people who you “know, like and trust.” In this world, your guard is as down as it will ever

One Response to “Social Media Privacy and Personal Security Issues”

[…] her son was in an orphanage.The mother said the photo was taken from her family’s blog.  Ive said in the past when posting to social media sites don’t give away specifics. Don’t post your address, date of […]

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Xtreme School

Featured in

Anderson Cooper John Stossel Robert Siciliano Featured in
Browse by Month

Browse by Category