The speed of sharing information on the internet means popular ideas, hacks, or challenges hit like lightning and spread like wildfire. Followers attempt the latest trend dominating social media until the next wave comes along, introducing something new.
However, consider this risk of online trends: underneath the fun and social aspect of trends lurks a potential threat to your data. By participating, you are sharing data that may be exploited by hackers.
Periodically, social media crops up with lists that people share about themselves. Following a template of questions, users add their information, post to their page, and then urge others to follow suit.
These templates range from lists about your favorite things to a series of questions about your past. For example, “What was your first pet?” “Who was your favorite teacher?” “What ice cream flavor is the best: Chocolate or Vanilla?”
While none of these questions pose a risk outright, all of them catalog your data. These surveys, questionnaires, or lists serve to collect information, and most users readily provide their data without thinking twice.
Everyone loves a challenge, especially one that doesn’t require you to move from your chair. Sitting at your computer, you can easily participate and join in the fun of online picture challenges.
Today’s challenge to post a recent profile picture next to one a decade old has been all the rage. It’s fun to see the ways in which people change (or didn’t change) from 10 years ago. Other photo challenges were equally fun to join: posting a meme, using an avatar, changing your profile pic to a baby photo, or taking a selfie to upload.
As a challenge, the photos are easy to do, but they are also harder to recognize as a form of data mining. As the old saying goes, “A picture tells a thousand words”; there may not be text to cull, but there’s certainly still much data to gain from analyzing these photos: dates, locations, etc.
All these catalogs and challenges draw on users’ desires to share about themselves, urges that are deeply ingrained and explained by the psychology of humans’ social nature. Unfortunately, hackers stand ready to exploit this.
Worse, data mined today is available long into the future where it’s wholly possible for new technology to be developed that will offer unforeseen, nefarious ways to use the data. Today’s fun photo challenge? Experts caution there may be an angle to it, allowing developers access to countless samples for perfecting or configuring facial recognition software. Can we even conceive the ways in which that can be used in the future?!
Now is the time to protect your data from future hackers. Next time you want to participate in a trend, ask yourself if you would share this information with the next person you see on the street. Learn more about the ways you share data and the possibility for today’s technology or future innovation to take advantage of your online habits.
Data mining is scary in your personal life but can be absolutely detrimental to your business. From tax records to sensitive client information, the data you store on your business systems is hackable.
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