The dangers of Facebook exposure

Author: Martin Voelk
April 12, 2015

Millions of people use Facebook. It’s a great tool to meet old friends, stay in touch with friends and family and share important and unimportant news.

Regardless what the profession is, people use Facebook. There is nothing wrong with law enforcement peopleĀ having Facebook or other Social Media profiles, however the problem starts when they start revealing all of their private information and not even locking security options down to friends for example.

Of course we won’t disclose any identities of sample profiles from Facebook, but as we have quite a lot of interested readers from law enforcement on our mailing list, we would like to highlight how to mitigate exposure online. We will not showcase the Google search dorks for this particular example.

Example

An active Police Officer from Europe has the full Facebook profile open to the whole world. No privacy settings whatsoever. Just browsing to this Facebook profile reveals the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Full Agency Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Phone numbers
  • Spouse Details (profile without any security lockdowns either)
  • Full Home Address
  • All Likes and Dislikes whether political or not
  • and a lot more

Now to have all this information being exposed to everyone in the world is a bad thing for any individual, however for an active member of the police this can potentially be a very bad thing. Identity theft, Social Engineering, Blackmailing by criminals etc. all start out with passive information gathering.

To make matters worse, a lot of people uploadĀ their wildest party and binge drinking pictures onto their Facebook Profiles. We have seen profiles of people being beyond drunk, uploading half naked pictures and worse! Again, no one should expose themselves like this from a security perspective but if that person works at the police it’s worse.

Tips

  • Lock your Facebook profile so only friends / close friends can see your posts
  • Don’t display your full name (use an Alias)
  • Don’t display home addresses on Facebook
  • Don’t display Phone numbers or other confidential information
  • Don’t tell the world who you work for! Yes if you run your own company or if you are a freelancer it’s good to advertise yourself, but if you work for the police there is no need to display this
  • Remove Metadata tags from pictures and files you upload. Often GPS data is attached to those which allows people to see where exactly those pictures were taken

Same basic pre-cautions help to not expose yourself online or only to the people you know and trust.

Those tips are not just for police officers, but also for lawyers and other people of trust. A potential client would probably not want to be defended by a lawyer who puts pictures on Facebook showing him throwing up. It’s a reputation. Yes, we are all humans and deserve to have a life outside of work, but does the whole world need to know about it? No one would pass the old fashioned family picture Album to a stranger, so why do it on Facebook?

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