Facebook and Instagram have been flooded with groups, pages, and profiles that post funny quizzes asking members and followers to answer questions that prompt engagement, such as how old they were for specific dates or events in their lives. Naturally, people thirsty for attention gladly share the information. Still, social media users do not realize that by participating, they are giving away sensitive information such as date of birth, birthplace, wedding date, etc.
The comments posted under such posts are often public, which means that everyone can see those. And by everyone we mean, bad actors who are looking for ways to commit a crime. With this information being freely available, the comments section under a funny question suddenly becomes a source of information for fraudsters. Think of this method of gathering information as the social media version of Jimmy Kimmel’s viral “what is your password” video from 2016.
Billions of data entries have been stolen in data breaches of big corporations over the last decade, and very often, all hackers need to commit identity theft crimes is to look for the missing piece… that might hide in the comments section. Hackers don’t only look for DOB but also potential answers to security questions such as “where did you and your partner first meet?” or “what is your favorite food?” or “what was the name of your first pet?”.
Such requests to reveal more about yourself are often disguised as silly questions, but giving away such information publicly can have negative consequences. And that final part of the puzzle that could be a keyword or an answer to a security question might be hiding in one of your social media comments.
As a general rule, you should not say anything on social media that you wouldn’t yell through the window as you don’t know who is listening. Fraudsters are getting more and more creative and are exploiting other ways to gain access to information that would prove helpful to them… and looking in the comments section of random posts is often a starting point.
Next time a question pops on your Facebook timeline asking you to share the model and year of your first car or the year you graduated high school, think twice before posting, as cybercriminals might be keeping an eye on those comments. The more you interact and reveal on social media, the more data points (digital prints) you leave for hackers to analyze and possibly use in the near or far future.