Risks of mobile social media use

Yes, social media’s addictive dose to our lifestyle often requires that we access it less from our desktops and more on mobile devices. Doing so updates us with what’s going on within our circle of friends and acquaintances and also be able broadcast where we are through location-based social networking applications.

These may be the benefits of being well-connected. But on the flip side, such actions may entice hackers into stealing our identity, which can be used to steal money through services such as phone banking. Although identity theft has been a serious problem that count millions of Americans as victims over the years, the number of people deceived by fraud through mobile devices have reached 227 for the first half of the year, and involved economic losses of more than HK$10.71 million.

Needless to say, everyone must be vigilant about possible occurence of identity theft. For example, when updating TV subscription or financial records by phone, we often think it’s convenient to simply supply our Hong Kong ID number or birth date instead of providing account numbers as an added layer of security. But stolen ID cards or unsecured social media profiles, reveal a wealth of resource for a cunning fraudster. While Facebook asks us to complete our profile details such as birth date, who we are related to, or even names of pets and favorite artists, fulfilling that request can provide at least a hint to those who wish to steal our identity online. In the past, I’ve mentioned about an unsuspecting broadcast of personal whereabouts at FourSquare, another location-based social application, likely indicates one’s absense elsewhere. Therefore, if I share that I am at the Tsim Sha Tsui restaurant, then that means sleuthing burglars may barge into my house knowing that I am not there.

In addition to the need to be more vigilant on the part of consumers, I believe banks also need to make necessary adjustments to address increased sophistication of fraudsters. HSBC has been implementing additional security with the introduction of a security device that requires every online banking user to input not only the conventional username and password combination but also a security code generated by the device.

Even if we take social media out of the equation, old-fashioned scams still exist. The more relevant item about the government’s HK$6,000 handout provides an opportunity to fool certain groups of people when callers may pose as authorized bank staff and grab information such as personal or bank account details. Or use the more outdated lottery notification scams via SMS. The proliferation of smartphones even exarcerbated the issue of security. So let’s bear in mind before sharing personal information to people online, be aware of such fraudulent tactics and practice the old advice: make passwords harder to detect, change passwords regularly, apply security settings and keep oneself updated on latest security news.