Sharing too much information online wrecks marriages and careers

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You should only create a profile under your real name once you’re happy with the amount of accessible information.

In the digital age, it’s easy to find information—you just need to know where to look. Although this is not in itself a bad thing, the information we personally share on the internet can be used against us.

According to a study by Kaspersky Lab, people are still recklessly sharing private information over the Internet in risky situations.

28% of people share confidential data by accident and 16% willingly disclose secrets about themselves—despite the fact that information shared online can cost them a relationship or a job.

The study surveyed at least 12,000 people, and their results revealed the riskiest personal data they shared online.

Here are the top offenders: a photo of themselves (45%), their contact details (42%), a photo of another person (32%), sensitive personal details (30%) and work-related data (20%) online.

As a result, the devastating consequences include losing friends (20%), being bullied (17%), suffering financial loss (15%), the end of a relationship (13%) and being dismissed from their job (13%).

Kaspersky Labs, a leading global cybersecurity company founded in 1997, offers some tips on how to post on social media securely.

Check security settings

Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter or a different social network, the most important thing is to remember to check your data protection settings.

As you do this, you should bear the following things in mind: Which data will be seen by the people you accept as friends? Which data is completely publicly available (and can thus be searched via Google and similar search engines)? What rights does the operator of the social network have?

You should only create a profile under your real name once you’re happy with the amount of accessible information.

Watch what you post

You should not be under the impression that social networks are unnecessary and, by definition, evil. On the contrary: Facebook and similar sites are fantastic tools for keeping in touch with friends all over the world.

Before you go all out, however, it is important to remember that careless chatter can be just as much of a problem as off-colour photos, binge-drinking videos, or memberships of dubious groups.

You should, therefore, be mindful when posting, and don’t forget your manners and your Netiquette. Even though you’re only virtually interacting with other users, hurling abuse is out of order.

Unmasking false friends

As a rule, the operators of social networking sites don’t verify that the owner of a particular user account is who they purport to be.

While it’s obvious that Karl Marx and Michael Jackson’s profiles are not maintained by the dearly departed themselves, it can be hard to tell whether Peter Miller is really your old classmate or someone posing as him.

Protect your identity

There are already cases of identity theft in which criminals have created profiles for users and used them to blackmail their victims. These people are forced to pay certain sums of money to prevent their online reputations from being ruined.

Threats include, for example, the publication of compromising photos. Another way to steal a person’s identity involves using phishing methods to collecting passwords for existing user accounts on social networking sites. In such cases, protective mechanisms are useful.

Preventing malware attacks

Cybercriminals use social networking sites to infiltrate vulnerable users and steal important data. Pests like the Koobface worm use social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to distribute themselves, as well as the more traditional email route.

If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them with us!