Stroudsburkg, Monroe County - You may think your internet identity is private but other people could accidentally be revealing information about you and your family.
Aubrey, a mother from the Poconos, agreed to be part of an Eyewitness News internet experiment. She said, "I'm on Facebook a lot and I'd like to know what, you know, how locked down my account is."
Internet expert Jonathan Weber runs Marathon Studios, Inc. He is developing software that puts together people profiles based on online information. "To find some of the information it is not hard at all," said Weber.
Eyewitness News gave him Aubrey's name with no other identifying information. He found her on Facebook and noticed she makes a good effort to maintain her privacy. He explained, "Everything that she had was on lock down. She had absolutely no information available about her, about her family."
But her family isn't so careful. Weber learned about Aubrey through things that people connected to her posted. He said, "Through these other people I was able to learn her history. I was able to learn her professional history...all about her sons, where her sons attend school, what her sons are interested in."
"It's a little scary. He found a lot of stuff out," remarked Aubrey. Even basic family information can give thieves enough information to steal your identity or financial information. Weber said online security questions are the main point of attack for thieves. He added, "It's quite possible that the information that I gathered would be enough for me to go reset the password to her email and take over her identity."
Password reset questions often ask things like "where did you get married? Or what is your first child's middle name? "You can set your bank password through your email. I'm sure your email password isn't as secure as your banking password," said Weber.
Eyewitness News is not sharing exactly what or how much the expert learned to protect Aubrey and her family's privacy.
Aubrey said she will be making some changes. She plans to talk to her family and friends about internet security. She will remind them that online everyone is connected and they could accidentally be revealing things that others would rather remain private. She said, "I don't want people knowing all about me. I use it for communication. My family, my friends. It's not for the whole world to see."
Weber shared some online privacy tips.
- Make your privacy settings as tight as possible. Check them often because social media sites sometimes change their rules.
- No matter what your privacy settings are, never assume posts will remain private. Other people could share or store them.
- Have a family meeting to talk to your kids about online security. Discuss the repercussions of posting inappropriate material
To learn more about Marathon Studios and eDentified people search software click http://www.marathon-studios.com/