Why you should avoid those fun social media “tell us about yourself” questions

Social media is overflowing with quizzes, surveys and alternatives to inform the world about your self. Study why it’s best to skip these to guard your self and your id.


Illustration: Lisa Hornung/TechRepublic

It is human nature; most of us love to speak about ourselves or at the very least share particulars about our previous and preferences. And social media loves that, too, because it will get individuals engaged and taking part. 

There’s only one drawback, nonetheless: you would possibly inadvertently and even intentionally give away particulars to strangers which could come again to hang-out you, and never simply with focused adverts, that are the least of our worries.

SEE: Safety incident response coverage (TechRepublic Premium)

It is not simply scandalous materials that may do you in. Fairly the opposite. Essentially the most regular (even uninteresting) facets of your lives may cost you within the type of id theft, compromised accounts or stolen funds. 

Living proof, the primary iteration of social engineering on Fb got here within the type of would-be humorous matters like “Your superstar stage title is your mom’s maiden title plus the road you grew up on! Submit the ends in the feedback!” 

This was a blatant try to reap the solutions to safety questions matching these particulars, and fortuitously most individuals (in my circle) had been too savvy to fall for this.

However the questions have gotten extra subtle and fewer suspicious. I’ve observed a big uptick in Fb questions that ask customers to reply seemingly harmless questions one would not suppose may put anybody at risk. 

One query invited commenters to publish what number of miles they dwell from the place they had been born. Whereas I dwell an undisclosed distance from my hometown and thus posting the reply to this would not essentially determine mentioned hometown (except somebody with a compass and map needed to triangulate which cities lie X miles from my present location), anybody who solutions “zero” locations themselves in danger. One take a look at their Fb profile to see what they listed as their present metropolis, and now you realize the reply to a quite common safety query: “What metropolis had been you born in?”

SEE: The right way to handle passwords: Greatest practices and safety ideas (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

One other nice instance is the widespread query: “What was the primary live performance you attended?” Hey, who does not take pleasure in reminiscing about great experiences? Simply take a second to gush about how nice it was seeing the Rolling Stones in 1971, and likelihood is that now individuals know you have in all probability answered “the Rolling Stones” to any safety query inquiring about your favourite band or, sure, the primary live performance you have seen.

Similar goes for “Submit the title of a pet you will miss without end.” Chances are high that was your first pet, so when you sort in “Fluffy” (not the title of my first pet) there’s one other safety query somebody can reply in your behalf.

I proved this to a relative who was skeptical of such risks. I knew her favourite track was “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. I additionally knew her e-mail tackle. I went to the net portal for her e-mail supplier, entered her account title and clicked “Forgot Password.” 

Guess which safety query got here up which I needed to reply to reset her password? Should you guessed “What’s your favourite track?” you win the prize for right now. All I wanted was that one bit of data. She was appalled, and I suggested her to alter that reply instantly. I didn’t really reset her password.

SEE: Cybersecurity: Do not blame workers—make them really feel like a part of the answer (TechRepublic) 

When creating accounts, I like to recommend not precisely answering safety questions in any respect. There is not any requirement to take action. Inform them you had been born in Snake River Canyon, Idaho, and your favourite band is Alvin and the Chipmunks, for all these websites care (no offense to Chipmunk followers). However be sure that to make use of a password supervisor to retailer these faux solutions securely, akin to in Keepass. This works effectively as a result of you may copy and paste the solutions into net types and you do not have to fret about nit-picky particulars like forgetting to incorporate a comma after town you had been born in adopted by the state, thus inflicting your reply to be rejected.

Do I feel each single social media quiz or query is a nefarious try to reap personally identifiable information? No. I am positive some are well-meaning and innocuous. I am unable to at this second envision how answering “Fried rooster or hamburgers?” places you at severe danger UNLESS you’ve gotten a associated safety query on the market figuring out your love for both, however you will seemingly, on the very least, begin seeing tailor-made adverts for rooster or burgers when you enter that reply. Err on the aspect of warning, and simply hold scrolling. 

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