We are all aware of the effects that social media can have on our daily lives, but did you know that posting a selfie could cost you thousands if done at the wrong time? The Australian Federal Police has urged Australians to cyber cull and pause before they post to social media to protect themselves from cybercriminals, fraudsters and other criminals. The warning comes as social media users are posting too much personal and professional information, and some have become easy targets for criminals. It’s now extremely common that criminals are browsing social media channels to exploit the vulnerabilities of their targets whilst they are on holiday, or away from their homes. Don’t become a statistic! Pause before you post, or you could return from holidays to find that criminals have taken advantage of your home being empty. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of some easy steps you can take today to protect yourself online and keep yourself and your property safe from unwanted intruders, break-ins, theft and damage. What you can do to protect yourself Double-check the check-ins Tagging a business or location has become second nature to us when posting on Instagram and Facebook. But to a would-be intruder trawling your favourite local restaurant’s public page, it can be an easy way of determining that you are not at home. Check your location settings on both your device and for specific social apps to make sure your private information isn’t being shared publicly. Delay your post until after you’re home Whether it was your 5-star family holiday or a gourmet night out for Valentine’s, it’s always safer to do a post after your home. By doing it retrospectively, a would-be intruder has no way of knowing exactly when you’re out and about, making your home a much less appealing target. Be careful broadcasting your big events Sharing fun personal news is what social media was made for. But announcing that you’ve just won a month-long cruise or scored tickets to your favourite band’s sold-out tour, could be inviting more than just ‘Congratulations!’ comments from friends. Criminals are on the lookout on social media platforms for keywords around travel, vacations, and upcoming festivals. They’ve even been known to trawl RSVPs on Facebook events. Depending on your privacy settings, these types of posts or your RSVPs can appear in their searches – indicating to potential intruders that your house will be unoccupied, and therefore an easy target. Avoid flashing the cash If you’ve ever upgraded to a new car after driving a rusted one for years, you know the temptation to show off your new ride on your profile. It’s only natural – you’re proud of your success, as you should be. Unfortunately, this also can inadvertently make you a target for would-be criminals. Big-ticket items like a new car, expensive jewellery or the latest home theatre system make your home a tempting target. A good rule to follow is: if you wouldn’t leave it unattended in public, you shouldn’t post it on the internet. And don’t forget that the car dealerships profile is public, so you might like to politely decline a feature there too. Stay away from questionable quizzes The internet is a wonderful source of knowledge and a tool for self-discovery. Who doesn’t want to know if they’re smarter than a fifth-grader, or which type of holiday best suits their personality? Unfortunately, some quizzes are created by scammers and criminals to gain specific knowledge about your habits, income and behaviour. Some might even secretly sell your data, opt you into other apps or gain access to your login credentials. Unless you trust the company behind the quiz, you want to avoid the risk – no matter how tempting it is to know what your iQ is. Take an active role in your security In the same way, you have regular check-ups with a GP, you should also have regular digital check-ups. Some things to look out for: Profile privacy settings. Private profiles are the safest; ideally, you want to know exactly who you’re sharing your personal information with. Repeated passwords. Every time you repeat a password, you’re creating another entry point into your personal information. While your banking site may be extremely unlikely to be hacked, that defunct online store you purchased from in 2018 is. Use a password manager to create strong passwords and keep track of all your accounts. Give yourself a stalk. In an incognito or private window, give yourself a Google and look yourself up on social media. This will show your information that is available to potential criminals. Invest in your security. Social media is driven by humans, and humans make mistakes. Make sure you have peace of mind knowing that if your aunt tags you in a photo on vacation, your home is still protected from opportune intruders. Regardless if you are away from home for an hour, or a month, you want to ensure that your home is protected while you’re not there. From the front door to your windows, Crimsafe’s industry-leading security screens are custom-designed to protect any home. Find your nearest supplier here https://crimsafe.com.au/supplier-search/ ___________________________________________________________________________ Source: Australian Federal Police – ‘Social media users urged to cyber cull in 2021‘. Published 22 March 2021.