Social networking security: 4 reasons why Facebook and vanity don't mix
A look at why self-glorification on social networks may make you the target of criminal adoration
By Joan Goodchild , Senior Editor
March 14, 2011 — CSO —
My colleague, Bill Brenner, has a t-shirt he likes to wear that basically says social networking feeds the darker sides of human nature. The shirt is a parody of a Venn Diagram and shows the relationship between sites like Facebook and Twitter to what some might called undesirable character traits, such as ADHD, stalking and narcissism.
Now there is research to back up what the shirt says. A study published this month in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking finds women who base their self worth on their appearance tend to share more photos online and maintain larger networks on online social networking sites. Researchers say the results reveal women identify more strongly with their image and appearance, and use Facebook as a platform to compete for attention.
See also: Social media risks: The basicsWe all want to put our best foot forward on social networks, but there are some things done in the name of vanity that can actually get you into trouble. Here's a rundown of how certain self-centered behaviors can leave you vulnerable to crime.
Posting too many pictures
The aforementioned study highlights what most Facebook members already know: Facebook is a forum where most users seek to showcase the best of themselves. For many, that means photos of you looking great, or in glamorous situations (think on vacation, or posing with many people at a party).
Why is this risky behavior? Because the more information you put out there, the easier it is to target you, particularly if the criminal already knows what you look like.
Last month, a California man pleaded guilty to charges of blackmailing a young girl to send him pornographic images of herself after contacting her on Facebook. James Dale Brown somehow got a hold of sexually explicit photos of the girl and used Facebook to find her and demand she send him a video of her having sex. Brown used the alias 'Bob Lewis' on Facebook and eventually sent links to an explicit image of the girl to one of the victim's 'friends.'
And in January, another California man, George Bronk, admitted to breaking into e-mail accounts to find explicit photos of women. Bronk said he used Facebook to learn answers to the security questions that many e-mail services, such as Yahoo and Gmail, use to reset passwords and compromised the accounts using that information.
Facebook photos are also the reason why some people get fired from their jobs. A recent survey from email security firm Proofpoint finds seven percent of organizations have fired an employee because of activity on social media sites, such as questionable photos that show the user in a less-than-desirable light.
Sharing too much information