Hackers Mine Info on Social Media
A recent hacking resulted in personal and financial info being leaked on several prominent people, from celebrities like Kim Kardashian to government officials like FBI Director Robert Mueller to even First Lady Michelle Obama. It's part of a new technique in which cyber thieves use social media sites as a gateway to other data. "The hackers accumulate information so that they can access sites that require more specific information about a particular person," says Adam Pridgen, a cyber expert from the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. He tells KTRH that even celebrities often leave themselves vulnerable on-line. "They're starting to voluntarily put this information out there (on Facebook and Twitter) so that people can keep track of them, figure out what they're up to, what they like and don't like, pet names, stuff of that sort."
Hackers will use some of that seemingly trivial info to answer security questions that gain access to more important info like banking or financial information. Whether you are a celebrity or not, Pridgen says it's important to safeguard yourself online. "The best thing to do is to become knowledgeable about the applications you're using like Google+, LinkedIn, or Facebook...and become aware of third-party applications you might use on your phone or computer." He notes that some free apps downloaded on cell phones can access data stored on that phone. Other recommendations are to regularly scan and update your computer to avoid viruses and malware that can expose your data.
The bottom line, according to Pridgen, is that the explosion of social media has changed the game for online hackers and stalkers. "We now live in a very different world than we did 10, 12, even 20 years ago, where everything we do has now become collective knowledge," he says. "Be aware and safeguard as much information as you possibly can, so you don't expose yourself or even your family members to potential online attacks."
Check out a recent report co-authored by Adam Pridgen on Cyber Threats in the Energy Industry here.