Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue – What Does Your Personal Data Say About You?

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A classic meet-cute – the moment where two people, destined to be together, meet for the first time. This rom-com cornerstone is turned on its head by Netflix’s latest bingeable series “You.” For those who have watched, we have learned two things. One, never trust someone who is overly protective of their basement. And two, in the era of social media and dating apps, it’s incredibly easy to take advantage of the amount of personal data consumers readily, and somewhat naively, share online and with the cloud every day.

We first meet Joe Goldberg and Guinevere Beck – the show’s lead characters – in a bookstore, she’s looking for a book, he’s a book clerk. They flirt, she buys a book, he learns her name. For all intents and purposes, this is where their story should end – but it doesn’t. With a simple search of her name, Joe discovers the world of Guinevere Beck’s social media channels, all conveniently set to public. And before we know it, Joe has made himself a figurative rear-window into Beck’s life, which brings to light the dangers of social media and highlights how a lack of digital privacy could put users in situations of unnecessary risk. With this information on Beck, Joe soon becomes both a physical and digital stalker, even managing to steal her phone while trailing her one day, which as luck would have it, is not password protected. From there, Joe follows her every text, plan and move thanks to the cloud.

Now, while Joe and Beck’s situation is unique (and a tad dramatized), the amount of data exposed via their interactions could potentially occur through another romantic avenue – online dating. Many millennial couples meet on dating sites where users are invited to share personal anecdotes, answer questions, and post photos of themselves. The nature of these apps is to get to know a stranger better, but the amount of personal information we choose to share can create security risks. We have to be careful as the line between creepy and cute quickly blurs when users can access someone’s every status update, tweet, and geotagged photo.

While “You” is an extreme case of social media gone wrong, dating app, social media, and cloud usage are all very predominant in 2019. Therefore, if you’re a digital user, be sure to consider these precautions:

  • Always set privacy and security settings. Anyone with access to the internet can view your social media if it’s public, so turn your profiles to private in order to have control over who can follow you. Take it a step further and go into your app settings to control which apps you want to share your location with and which ones you don’t.
  • Use a screen name for social media accounts. If you don’t want a simple search of your name on Google to lead to all your social media accounts, consider using a different variation of your real name.
  • Watch what you post. Before tagging your friends or location on Instagram and posting your location on Facebook, think about what this private information reveals about you publicly and how it could be used by a third-party.
  • Use strong passwords. In the chance your data does become exposed, or your device is stolen, a strong, unique password can help prevent your accounts from being hacked.
  • Leverage two-factor authentication. Remember to always implement two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security to your device. This will help strengthen your online accounts with a unique, one-time code required to log in and access your data.
  • Use the cloud with caution. If you plan to store your data in the cloud, be sure to set up an additional layer of access security (one way of doing this is through two-factor authentication) so that no one can access the wealth of information your cloud holds. If your smartphone is lost or stolen, you can access your password protected cloud account to lock third-parties out of your device, and more importantly your personal data.

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