Facebook is great — you can find friends, make friends, or just keep track of what your friends are up to. There’s just one huge problem: cyber criminals are also able to keep track of your life. Normally, we only talk about home security tips, but we think it’s just as important for you to stay safe on social media.
Because so many people are ignorant to the extent of their online exposure, we’ve prepared this article to help smart home customers know how to keep their families safe on Facebook.
Ways to Protect Your Family on Facebook
Here are just a few ways to keep your family (and yourself) safe on Facebook:
- Only Friend Your Friends: There’s no reason you should be friending someone online who you’ve never met before. Sure, maybe you get a slight happy feeling when you see your friend count go up. But that’s nothing compared to the potential risk you’re inviting into your life. Why would you want to give potential predators access to your interests, hobbies, friends, and family?
- Delete Bad Links: If a random person posts a link on your page, you should delete it regardless of whether it looks malicious or not — you should also block the stranger. The truth is that malicious links can even come from friends that you personally know and trust; this is because your friends’ Facebook accounts can be easily hacked.
- Don’t Chat: Do not use Facebook Messenger with people you do not know. Most modern-day Facebook predators will attempt to entrap you through Facebook Messenger. If it makes you feel more comfortable, just mute or turn off Facebook Messenger altogether.
- Change Password Every Three Months: Yes, changing your password is a hassle, but it’s the easiest way to deter potential hackers and threats. The more complicated and random your password, the better your chances of staying secure.
- Hide Your Birthday: Don’t share your personal information on social media. But if you want to share some of it, just make sure you don’t share your birth year with everyone. This is a simple thing you can do to protect yourself from identity theft.
Though there are certainly many ways around these efforts, most cyber criminals will go after low hanging fruit. So the trick is: don’t be low hanging fruit.
There are plenty of cautionary tales for Facebook. Please take a look at the following stories and learn from the mistakes and successes that others have experienced.
Predators Use Facebook To Groom Kids
Lock this guy up for good — that's a most fitting motto for Brandon McIntyre, 22, who pretended he was "Katie Thompson" on Facebook and threatened to kill a girl's family if she refused to go on trips with him.
This New Jersey nutcase made another ridiculous threat (ridiculous, because, how could he think that even young victims could take him seriously?) to a 12-year-old, telling her he was a cop who'd have her expelled from school and sent to state prison for failing to obey a police officer.
The "order" was to send him explicit photos of herself.
Posing as a police officer, he even told a woman via texting he'd have her daughter taken away if she refused to go on a date with him. He could get 30 years in federal prison and fines totaling half a million dollars.
The next predator was a bit more convincing, using Facebook to talk a boy into ducking out of his home in the middle of the night to meet him.
Adam Brown, 21, was caught by the victim's mother. Brown got the boy's confidence first by posting videos of himself and telling jokes.
The boy's mother worked nights and his grandmother watched him and his siblings.
One night she returned to find their dog acting strange; she discovered the boy wasn't in his bed. She contacted him via cell and he said he was just out walking.
She drove out and picked him up, took away his phone and computer, and demanded his passwords. She then gained access to the cyber dialogue between him and Brown. In the dialogue, Brown told the boy that the boy was cute.
And the dialogue got worse. The boy actually met Brown, who had threatened suicide if he refused.
His mother told Brown, after contacting him, to cease contact with her son, but he contacted him again and made creepy comments.
- Get full access to your kids social accounts.
- Monitor their device activity without notice.
- Have in-depth detailed conversations about how predators lure kids.
- Read every news report about these issues and discuss with your kid.
- Turn off all wireless and wired internet at night so kids can't have access.
Facebook Photos Bust Bank Robber
Do these bank robbers have bricks for brains? They actually posted photos of themselves with wads of the stolen cash on Facebook, says a story on thesmokinggun.com.
The alleged bank robers are John Mogan, 28 and Ashley Duboe, 24, and they've been charged with robbing a bank in Ohio. Mogan has already served time for a previous bank robbery conviction and was out on parole.
It all started when Mogan apparently sauntered into the bank and demanded money with a note. It's not clear from the article whether or not Mogan brandished a weapon. At any rate, the teller handed over the money.
A video camera shows a thief in a hoodie exiting the bank with cash in his hands. Mogan has a distinct appearance in that both cheeks are tattooed.
Authorities believe that Duboe covered up the facial (and neck) tattoos with makeup prior to the robbery. Four days later, both geniuses posted their images to the Facebook page that they share, with Mogan pretending to bite into a thick wad of bills-which he refers to as a "McStack." In another incriminating image, Mogan is pretending that the wad of cash is a phone.
A relative spotted the images, and from that point, things went sour for these Bonnie and Clyde wannabes. Both are currently behind bars, and the bond has been set at $250,000. Let's see Mogan try to make a "McStack" with that amount and put his mouth around it.
Not surprisingly, neither of these two look too smug in their mugshots.
Would You Use Facebook To Catch a Bad Guy?
In Oklahoma, the OK state, an elderly couple was home invaded and held at knifepoint, and the woman was knocked to the ground.
During the ensuing abuse, their home was robbed and the predator got away — Not OK.
The police were notified and a description of the home invader was provided to the police. Shortly after, the victims' granddaughter decided the best course of action would be to post the description on Facebook with the intent of spreading the word to catch him.
Due to the heinous actions of the thief and the fact he was on the loose, the Facebook post went viral, with over 9,000 shares in a short time.
The perpetrator's brother-in-law (of all people) saw the Facebook posting and recognized the description, then quickly contacted the granddaughter, then called the police to report his relative. (I'd love to attend their Thanksgiving dinner. Must be a hootin,' hollerin' good time!)
Anyway, while justice was served, the local police frowned upon this type of viral APB. Seems the police have a good point, and the force's public information officer stated, "Friends and family members of the suspect could see that and alert the individual we are out there looking for [him]. ... The suspect then could try to hide, run away or even destroy evidence. We always want the public to contact the police first."
Point well taken. To support the officer's statement, one only need to look as far as the Boston Marathon bombing and the witch hunt that ensued when Reddit "investigators" accused the wrong guys of planting the bombs.
One of them ended up dead a short while later for reasons that are still not clear to me. What do you think? I think a burglar alarm may have prevented the whole drama from happening in the first place.
About the author:
Robert Siciliano is a personal and home security specialist for BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com.