Do you know who Christopher Chaney is?
Christopher Chaney is a hacker; a celebrity hacker! He was arrested in October of 2011 as a part of a yearlong investigation of celebrity hacking, which was named by the authorities “Operation Hackerazzi”.
Mr. Chaney hacked into email accounts of more than 50 celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera and Mila Kunis. He searched for clues for potential passwords and user names in celebrity magazines, blogs, and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Mr. Chaney looked for names of favorite pets, favorite places, movies, music, hometowns, parents and siblings’ names and other information made public by the celebrities and their handlers. He was able to guess user names and passwords based on the information available.
Do you see why it is extremely important that you don’t share your complete life story with the whole world? You don’t have to be a celebrity! You’d be surprised how many people, including identity thieves, would love to have your information.
So here are just a few quick tips to keep you safe while you are having fun socializing online:
- I might sound like a broken record, but I will say it again: Always create strong passwords and never use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Remember, anything you post online is not private anymore. Always assume that your information might be available to anyone who wants it. Therefore, limit the amount of private information you are sharing.
- Consider joining just 1 or 2 social networking sites and make sure to have the strictest privacy settings.
- Create a pseudonym for your social networking sites that have nothing to do with your real name or your nickname.
- Be stingy with sharing information such as your date of birth, hometown, schools that you went to, residence address, telephone, favorite places, movies, songs, etc. These pieces of information are often used as answers to security questions for password recovery or reminders. Therefore,
- Create secure challenge questions and answers that have nothing to do with your Mother’s maiden name or your pet’s name. Come up with something creative and never mention it to anyone.
- Don’t blindly accept friendship requests from people you don’t know.
- Don’t share information about your family. Don’t reveal names of your parents, children and siblings. I love looking at all of the baby photos; they are all just so adorable! But, most likely, some of those names are used in the password creation, user names and security questions.
- Teach your children about the importance of not sharing too much information. The youngsters have tendency to share too much.
- Stay away from Quizzes that are designed to harvest your personal information. Those Quizzes may sound fun, but they ask for information such as your first pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, where you were born, favorite color, etc.
- Don’t constantly post your whereabouts and don’t share your travel itinerary.
Use your common sense and, before sharing your information, remember that it is extremely difficult to erase your footprint online.
Information is currency: It can be aggregated, bought, sold, traded and exploited.