Feb 18, 2015
Posted by Robert Creech in: May Contain Nuts
You’ve probably seen or even played the game passed on through social media. The title can be a little more, shall we say, ‘niche market’ compared with the generic “movie star” heading I’ve given but the game remains the same as does the risk it poses to your personal data.
The game states that you take the name of your first pet followed by your mother’s maiden name to see what your movie star name would be. Hilarity ensues……
Moving on and, some weeks later, one may have cause to contact the bank.
“Just a couple of security questions first,” intones the operator. “Could you confirm your mother’s maiden name, and the name of your first pet please?”
I don’t mean to be a complete killjoy but……… you can see the obvious issue here.
There are countless variations out there – one of the more inspired ones I saw was how to arrive at your West-Indian Cricketing name** – but our inner security-minded pixie should be telling us to take care. Alarm bells should ring whenever we volunteer any personal information particularly when we have limited control over how far and wide it may travel. Presenting the information as an isolated, anonymous result may seem harmless but link this to other personal details and it begins to become of use to the ne’re-do-wells of the world.
If you choose to add your “Movie Star Name” to a post on social media you risk associating these personal details with a significant amount of other usable information including;
your full name – almost definitely on view
your date of birth – many people choose to hide this, but you can’t hide the “happy 30th” everyone posted on a given date on your timeline
your address – in the habit of ‘checking in’ once home? It doesn’t take much to get a post code from that information
Whilst you may restrict the visibility of your social media account (and if you don’t, you really should) it only needs one of your friend’s accounts to be compromised for a hacker to view anything you have shared with said friend.
It’s another harsh reality of the digital age. Be thoughtful about what information you are disclosing in the course of ‘harmless fun’ and consider how it might, in a worst case scenario, be used for nefarious purposes.
** for the record, mine was “Nixon Teignmouth”
Part of the “May contain nuts” series of short articles discussing familiar topics which we should all revisit once in a while.