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Risky Business: The Danger of Sharing “List” Information on Facebook

Part of the fun of using Facebook is that you can have conversations, reminisce and get in touch with people you only get to see occasionally. Viral posts that ask you to share 10 facts about yourself, your favorite movie quotes or the 10 concerts you’ve been to (but one is a lie) make great conversation starters and are fun and easy to write. As interesting as they are, though, sharing lists on Facebook could actually pose a security risk for not only your Facebook account, but your bank and other personal accounts as well.

What’s so Bad About Sharing a Few of your Favorite Things?

That list may sound like harmless fun, but to a cybercriminal or predator, it could be a passport to your identity, your bank account, your email account and more. By sharing these tidbits of personal information, you leave a trail of breadcrumbs to your personal preferences and data; a savvy hacker could piece together quite a bit of information about you from the things you share.

The “10 Concerts I have been to” and similar lists that make their way through the Facebook community in a wave are a possible bounty for those seeking to steal your identity or compromise your accounts. The lists are viral – and you share them with your friends, family and even the acquaintances in your network. They may be ideal for generating conversations, remembering fun times from the past and learning more about your friends and family, they are also a security risk for everyone who participates.

Facebook “Favorite” Lists Could Increase your Security Risk

What do you risk when you share obscure information online and on your social media sites? It you think about the kinds of questions that your bank or other financial institution poses to you as a challenge when you log in from a new phone or computer, they are remarkably like the questions posed by these lists. Some typical bank or account security questions include:

Who is your favorite movie character?

What sports teams have you seen play in person?

What concerts have you seen?

What’s your mother’s maiden name (a typical Facebook “quiz” or list could ask about the origin of your family name, including your mother’s maiden name)

When you answer these questions, you expose yourself to risk; the responses you supply to a fun quiz, meme or posting trend could be used by a hacker to infiltrate your accounts.

There is a shocking similarity to the fun, shareworthy questions that trend on Facebook and the questions you need to answer when you log into a secure site.

We’re Just Not That Great at Passwords

Most of us have a multitude of passwords to remember; from your personal email to your work email, your entertainment subscriptions, bank accounts and other secure accounts each requires a password. TO make things easier to remember, most of us stick to the same few terms or words. Even if you are not using a terrible password like “Password”, “ABC123” or “qwerty”, you may still be exposing yourself to risk if you share even a few of your favorite things online.

Password Recovery Questions

Ever lost your password? Not only will you have to come up with a new one (and possibly use the name of your favorite sports team, movie or band), you’ll have to answer security questions to do so. If you have exposed the answers to those questions in a Facebook thread, your other accounts could be at risk.

Your Privacy Settings Matter

Even if you set your account to private a few months ago, the privacy terms on social media sites change all the time. Your account may be showing off more information than you intend to. Even worse, if you have accepted a friend request just because someone seems to have a familiar photo, claims to have gone to the same college or high school or just has an appealing profile image, that stranger can see everything you post. Your birthday, your kid’s names, your phone number, favorite movies and books, pet’s names and hobbies are freely displayed for those you’ve added to your network. The answers you post when you share one of those fun lists could be just the bit of information a cybercriminal needs to break into your accounts.

Protect your accounts by skipping those sharable lists or only sharing them via message with people you know personally. You’ll still be able to make plenty of connections, but you won’t be putting your own accounts at risk. Learn more about keeping your accounts secure and taking advantage of the latest technology by following our blog; we’re here to make sure you stay on the cutting edge of the latest trends.