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Social media security: Why online criminals 'like' our 'likes'


25/03/2013

By Nick Besant, Panoplia Security Services

A recent study led by Cambridge University has found that ‘liking’ Facebook groups can reveal sensitive personal information about you. At a time when the security of social media sites has been under the spotlight, users must do more to minimise the risk of identity theft online.

The topical study which is based on algorithms that infer a user’s identity, suggests your ‘likes’ disclose far more sensitive and therefore valuable information than previously thought. Research used 58,000 volunteers to infer race, IQ, sexuality, substance, personality or political views, in a highly accurate manner.

The findings emerge in light of the latest security breaches suffered by major social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Twitter fell victim to an attack when 250,000 of its user details were stolen in a pandemic attack earlier this year, while Facebook has previously suffered similar problems.

Recent security problems have been attributed to the growth of apps on mobile devices which have been targeted by opportunistic criminals.
However, users can reduce the risk of identity theft themselves. Changing passwords regularly is one simple and effective method, whilst altering Facebook ‘likes’ from public to private should stem the availability of information that could lead to identity theft.

It is crucial users be both aware and proactive in managing their social media presence, and ensure their own information is not used by a dangerous minority intent on getting our data.

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