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Ruby: One Bee's Social Media Adventure

 

Ruby, a friendly and social bee, loves Facebook and FourSquare. He’s happy to share all his latest adventures, posting updates on Facebook and checking in on FourSquare to every place he visits. You won’t find lurid pictures of Ruby on his profile because he’s simply not that kind of bee.

What you will find on Ruby’s profile is everything else, and you don’t even have to be his friend to see it. Ruby has never adjusted his security settings on Facebook and anyone can search for him and see everything he’s posted on his “Info” tab. They can see all his family albums lovingly captioned with everyone’s names. They can even see who his Facebook friends are.

And that’s how Ruby’s social network world turned cloudy. It didn’t take long for a nasty sort of bear to weave his way into Ruby’s circle. The bear, being of a criminal mind, took a cue from this list of ways that criminals use Facebook and decided to start sniffing around for potential marks. Stumbling upon Ruby’s open profile, the bear noticed Ruby might have some pretty cool stuff in his hive like a new PlayStation and a flashy new iPad—thanks to all the open photo albums.

The bear set the stage. He changed his profile to match Ruby’s hometown. Then he started sending friend requests to people in Ruby’s friends list and eventually one of them accepted.  When Ruby received a friend request from this strange bear, he didn’t think anything of it because the bear was already friends with a buddy from high school. He must be a good bear, right?

All the bear had to do now was sit and wait for the right opportunity. This could play out a few ways.

Which way do you want to explore?

  • Bear sits in wait for vacation time

    The bear finds out Ruby’s address using Ruby’s name, current city, and phone number. Then he waits until he sees Ruby gleefully posting about planning a vacation. The bear knows how long Ruby will be gone and knows Ruby is taking his girlfriend so there will be no one home. Now all that’s left is to figure out if there’s an alarm system. This is not tough to figure out because the bear knows when Ruby leaves for class on Tuesdays so he just waits outside the house to see if Ruby sets an alarm.

    The bear knows even if there is an alarm, there are a few combinations he could try based on Ruby’s profile: his birthday, the year his favorite team won the World Series, the numbers to match his pet’s name. Even if they don’t work, he can get in and out quickly enough to grab a few pricey items. He knows exactly where these all are because he’s studied the photos Ruby has posted.

    One night while Ruby is in Aruba with his lady bee, the bear makes his move. He takes that new PlayStation and finds some nice collectibles. The bear isn't alone in this method of crime.

  • Bold bear goes for gold and steals Ruby’s identity

    The bear finds out Ruby’s address using Ruby’s name, current city, and phone number. Then he waits until he sees Ruby gleefully posting about planning a vacation. The bear knows how long Ruby will be gone and knows Ruby is taking his girlfriend so there will be no one home. Now all that’s left is to figure out if there’s an alarm system. This is not tough to figure out because the bear knows when Ruby leaves for class on Tuesdays so he just waits outside the house to see if Ruby sets an alarm.

    The bear knows even if there is an alarm, there are a few combinations he could try based on Ruby’s profile: his birthday, the year his favorite team won the World Series, the numbers to match his pet’s name. Even if they don’t work, he can get in and out quickly enough to grab a few pricey items. He knows exactly where these all are because he’s studied the photos Ruby has posted.

    One night while Ruby is in Aruba with his lady bee, the bear makes his move. He takes that new PlayStation, finds some nice collectibles, and bonus! even finds Ruby’s checkbook and something else with Ruby’s signature on it. Not a bad score for a night’s work. The bear isn't alone in this method of crime.

  • Ruby Takes Stock of His Cyber Security Awareness

    One of Ruby’s friends sent him this story about a woman who received a creepy call soon after checking in at a restaurant using Foursquare. The story rattled Ruby and he started thinking about how much he shares online. He doesn’t want creeps and criminals to stop him from connecting with his friends but he realizes maybe not everyone needs to see it.

    He starts reading about restricting his Facebook profile and using Foursquare differently (to check in and get the credit without broadcasting it). He also decides it’s time to scrutinize his 340+ Facebook friends. He starts slashing:

    • Those people from high school that friended him but he was never friends with in high school.
    • Those people he friended because they have mutual friends but he doesn’t know them at all.
    • The people he knew from previous jobs and clubs but doesn’t talk with anymore

    Next he decides it’s time to set up some friends lists so he can further control who sees what. He decides to set up different levels based on how much he trusts certain people:

    • Everything: these are the friends and family he would trust with his life. He has no issues sharing his vacation plans with them or letting them know exactly where he is and when.
    • Most: these are the friends and family that he loves but maybe they have some relatives that are a bit troubled. This group doesn’t need to see his posts about being away from his house.
    • Work: These are the people he considers his work friends. He trusts them but sometimes he needs to vent about work and it’s better if they don’t see some posts.
    • Distant: These are the people he doesn’t want to defriend but there is no reason they need to see anything he’s saying or doing. He may want to share some posts with them but he wants that to be his choice.

    After this spring cleaning and security check, Ruby is no longer friends with the bear and the bear sets off in search of his next victim. Ruby also decides to post a link to his wall for the remaining Facebook friends suggesting they too take a look at their settings.

 

What’s the moral of this story? Sharing the right information with the wrong people can lead to theft, identity or otherwise. Social networking sites, when used wisely, are great for connecting with people and promoting yourself or your business. Even if you trust all your connections/friends, be careful about connecting with people you don’t have a relationship with and have never met in person. It’s understandable that you want to believe people are authentic and trustworthy. Sadly, criminals exploit that trust for their benefit and they don't care what harm they cause you. It's up to you to Protect Yours.