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Oversharing online: what are the personal and professional risks?

Nowadays, it’s rare to come across someone who doesn’t have at least one profile on a social network, and it’s with good reason. These platforms have become crucial for linking up with relatives and colleagues, and even for making new friends all over the world. However, it’s no secret that all social platforms use tricks based on psychology to encourage regular use among members – all so that you never tire of liking, commenting and, most importantly, sharing.

There are obviously exceptions, but these psychological triggers are employed precisely so that web users almost “pick up a habit”. Who doesn’t enjoy sharing photos of that amazing trip? And showing off your new car to friends? How about expressing your opinion on the hottest topic? We become hungrier for each “like”, with a constant quest for higher numbers of interactions and followers, as a means to feel more important, loved and respected.

The problem is that, like everything else in excess, it can have some pretty disagreeable outcomes. The main form is oversharing on the internet – a term used to describe an individual who, anxious for increasingly regular interactions, ends up excessively sharing details of their lives on social networks. This is a really dangerous practice from an information security point of view, both in terms of one’s personal and professional life, and reviewing your habits on these platforms is key to ensuring online privacy and safeguarding confidential data.

They’re watching you

Firstly, it’s important to remember that anyone can sign up for a social network and, unfortunately, few users know how to correctly configure their profiles so that published content remains restricted to a trusted circle of friends. Most times, internet users simply leave everything public, allowing any individual – including those with bad intentions – to view their posts. Have you ever stopped to wonder just how dangerous it could be to allow a fraudster to discover your habits, your preferences and even the places you enjoy visiting?

Sometimes, people share photos of places they often visit, they share details from their private lives and broadcast certain information that could be used by cybercriminals to create scams to target them specifically. Chains like “name your favorite bands” or “list your favorite restaurants” may very often provide clues about parts of a user’s password or indicate what type of phishing scam the person is likely to fall for.

Work is work; play is play

But oversharing on the internet can also result in risks to your professional life. It’s quite common to find fellow employees who, with a little extra time on their hands, take photos of the work environment and publish them on social networks. The problem is that some photos can reveal confidential business information – a user may not realize it but ends up publishing an image that exposes an annotation on a whiteboard, a post-it or a sensitive document left on the desk. It’s also common for people to take the famed ‘selfie’ in front of computer screens showing some piece of private data.

Believe it or not, there have been reports of upper-management execs, in the heat of the moment, taking photos in front of a whiteboard containing the company’s entire business roadmap and posting it online without realizing they are breaking corporate terms of confidentiality. 

Gauge your level of exposure

As previously mentioned, everything in excess is bad, and the exaggerated use of social networks certainly isn’t an exception to the rule. As such, try to control your anxiety to overshare information on these types of platforms: before publishing anything, think two or three times about whether it is truly necessary and if it may expose a part of your private or professional life. When it comes to photos, pay careful attention to ensure that the image does not include sensitive data before posting it to your profile.

Article originally written in Portuguese by Perallis Security Content Team: Superexposição na internet: quais os riscos pessoais e profissionais? — Perallis Security