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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Social Networking and Identity Theft

6 June 2009 by Stephen McNamara

Social networking is becoming a risky business if recent news headlines are any indication. It seems that we must be wary of the myriad of ways cyber criminals are using social media to entrap us.

Apparently, we have become quite savvy about spotting email threats, so the scammers and malware purveyors are turning to new fertile ground on sites such as Facebook and Bebo.

Advice for staying safe when social networking ranges from not responding to unusual email alerts, to not accepting friend requests from people you don’t know. However, this week I read an article which highlighted a much more fundamental potential security risk users could be exposing themselves to.

The risk is identity theft and it is all to do with what personal details we put on our profiles. Many organisations, such as some banks, rely on our personal information to verify who we are. Things such as date of birth, middle name, pet’s name etc.

This is exactly the sort of information we offer up on our social networking personal pages. On Facebook for example, you can have your full date of birth (and therefore age) displayed.  Cyber criminals can easily harvest this information to attempt to commit identity fraud. So the obvious advice here is to not put your full date of birth on the profile page.

Taking the point into a wider context, identity fraud is a serious matter for businesses. Companies have a responsibility to protect their customers’ sensitive details, while on the other side customers will not give their business to those they cannot trust.

As a hosting provider, we at UKFast hold very sensitive data, so our security needs to be impeccable. We operate state-of-the-art data centres that boast best-of-breed multi-layered security measures and we have a unique password protection system in place for every client. So we wont be asking our clients their date of birth!