Social Media: Millions at risk posting confidential data online

Social media fraud By Richard Allen, 7Safe Training Lead | 20 January 2016

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all make it easy for us to share information with our friends and catch up with their news – but for many our social media posts also leave us vulnerable to fraud.

Earlier this week Which? released the details [1] of its latest investigation to see if a search of the internet and the use of publically available information for 42 volunteers could be used to create a stolen identity and apply for a credit card – worryingly credit cards were obtained from three of these. Having been given only the name and email addresses of the volunteers, Which?’s researchers scoured Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as the electoral roll, Companies House and the Land Registry to look for key information, such as date of birth, home address and telephone number, that would enable them to complete an online application form.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: “Consumers should be extra careful about the information they share online. Unfortunately, you can still become a victim of fraud even if you have been vigilant.”

Which?’s investigation serves to highlight that many people give away far more than they realise online, revealing valuable information about themselves that could make them easy prey for identity thieves and exposing them to cybercrime.

Here’s what you can do to secure yourself and your business:

  • Improve the overall security awareness of your employees. Our modular awareness programmes can be tailored from a 30-minute “lunch and learn” to full day events, helping people to recognise the threats they face both in their personal lives and at work. They will leave armed with a practical set of tips to reduce both the likelihood and impact of a future security breach.
  • Don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know on social media sites. It’s a good idea to create separate work and personal profiles.
  • Check the settings on your social media profiles to make sure they are set to private and that you are only sharing information with people you know.
  • Protect your accounts with different and strong complex passwords that are hard to guess.
  • Don’t post your current location.
  • Don’t post information that would make you or your family vulnerable, such as your date of birth and address.
  • Never respond to unsolicited emails, click on suspicious links or ones that try to convince you to respond by offering prizes or a cash incentive – even if they are from your friends.
  • Be cautious using public Wi-Fi - take care when using public Wi-Fi networks and don’t use them to access sensitive apps such as mobile banking.


Richard Allen is Education Business Development Manager at 7Safe, PA Consulting Group’s technical security practice based at the Cambridge Cyber Development Centre, which has trained over 500 of the UK’s leading ethical hackers and digital forensics professionals.

Call us on 01763 285 285 to claim a Free Training Consultation to discuss how 7Safe can assist your organisation improve the overall security awareness of your team.

"Many people give away far more than they realise online, revealing valuable information about themselves that could make them easy prey for identity thieves."


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