Twitter/Facebook Updates Could Threaten Your Own Security

Here's a little known fact: Twitter and Facebook are erupting in popularity. Both social networks have taken the underground and mainstream worlds by storm, and everyone from your next door neighbor to your favorite celebrity is likely within reach. This new world of information can be extremely beneficial; having real-time updates to breaking news, concert listings, sports scores, weather alerts, etc. enable all of our lives to be easier.

But as with anything, good devices can typically be exploited and used for ill. Stories have begun to surface that highlight the risk in disclosing all sorts of typically private information on open social networks. Experts have spotted that both Twitter and Facebook foster a false sense of security, as if those following you are all trustworthy and harmless. A study found that 13% of Facebook users and an astounding 92% of Twitter users simply allow anyone who requests access to them have it. Through experience, we can say that protecting one's Facebook profile seems easier, as Twitter users have to manually lock their account in order to prevent others from following their tweets. And even still, if a friend re-tweets something from you and broadcasts it out to the open world, your "inside" tweet has suddenly be opened up for everyone on the outside to see.

Obviously, letting just anyone view tweets and status updates can have serious consequences. In most cases, blurbs emitted on Twitter and Facebook are harmless, but by mentioning vacation plans, upcoming business trips or meet-ups with certain people, you're also giving away your location, time away and potential rivals. To criminals, these minor details can be assembled in order to dig up details and uncover secrets. If someone knows exactly when you'll be gone, your home is wide open to being broken into. If someone knows who you're meeting with on business, they could uncover your employer and/or location. It's tough to think about, but it's something that should definitely be considered by Facebook and Twitter users, particularly those who let just anyone follow their digital lives.

Another security threat that has just recently been tackled is the use of out-of-office replies. These messages are sent out as soon as anyone (anyone!) emails you, giving potential enemies information on how long you're away and who you recommend contacting while you're out. Needless to say, these details coupled with Facebook/Twitter snippets could let out way more information than you ever intended to be loosed. In saying all of this, we'll just recommend that you only allow friends to follow you on Facebook, and if you must keep your Twitter account public for all to see, be extremely careful what you post. Anything related to location, absence or work could come back to bite you if the wrong people get their hands on the information.