Social Distancing: The hidden risks of online exposure

Whether you’ve bunked up with your family or you’re self-isolating, you are among the crowds engaged in a struggle of social distancing, which is quickly becoming the norm in 2020.

While staying at home may limit the spread of the disease and keep you safe, social distancing may put you at risk – and not only from a psychological standpoint.

In just a few weeks following the outbreak, social and economic habits were broken, and we are now struggling to keep our smiling poker face amid the crisis. The side effects of isolation may also influence your online activity, attracting unwanted attention from cyber criminals.

Oversharing on social media

Even if you’re working a 9 to 5 job remotely, that does not mean that your presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has disappeared. The pandemic has boosted digital media consumption across all platforms, from online gaming, movie streaming, forums and chat rooms.

Some of us may feel overwhelmed and have the urge to create a “stay-at-home journal” and post excessively. But what if increasing your social media exposure does more harm than good?

By relating key pieces of your life in the digital world, you’re not just expanding your online presence. The visible trail you leave behind might seem meaningless at first. However, if your personal information falls in the hands of identity thieves, you may get a bad case of identity theft or impersonation to deal with. Remember to post responsibly, to avoid leaving an online identity trail you might later regret.

Online exposure for children

To prevent jeopardizing the lives of students, schools around the world have closed their doors, and online courses and home schooling have become the new trends. A sense of overwhelm may hit parents who have to entertain little ones at home amid the ‘quarantine’ phase, and you might not pay as much attention to your child’s online patterns. It’s recommended to try and keep a close eye on what your child is exposed to in the digital world — what apps, streaming or online gaming platforms they use.

Moreover, the sense of being isolated from friends and other family members may rush you into posting photos and videos on social media platforms, even if just to say hello to the grandparents your child misses so much. There are no take-backs and nothing is temporary online. Even if your child has no social media account, you’re passively creating it for him. Every post, picture and video adds to their online identity.

We’re not just focused on keeping your devices safe. We know it’s hard keeping children entertained 24/7 while also concentrating on educating them. So, if your creativity has run out for the day, why not take a look at some of our tips? You may find useful tools to add to their schedule.

Chatrooms and online dating

Bars, restaurants and shopping malls are now closed. However we’re fortunate to live in a time where technological advancements allow us to hear and see each other over great distances. Chatrooms, forums and instant communication apps help us stay in touch with family and coworkers, and sometimes help us make new friends.

When loneliness kicks in, we become most vulnerable. If you’re confident that nothing bad can happen in a chatroom or online dating app, you’re wrong. Anyone can use a different identity in the virtual world. The flexibility and anonymity people enjoy online is a double-edged sword, as you can’t really identify truth from fiction with any certainty.

In the context of the Covid-19 outbreak and the isolation that follows, people are more likely to access online portals designed to help users date, share their story or have a good laugh – we all need one.

In this sense, I simply wish to highlight the importance of not being duped by your newfound love interest or friend. You never know if somebody’s casting a hook from the other side and you’re just the next target in line.

Online deception has crept into every known part of the Internet, and creating a fake account is just the first domino. Some might even play the victim card, claiming they were attacked or need medical care they cannot afford, or their house was vandalized by robbers or they were laid off.

They will play on your empathy and ask you to send them money or goods. If you deny their request, things can get ugly. At best, they’ll simply block you and head on to the next victim. In some cases, however, the scammers will even try to threaten you by exposing any secrets you might have willingly shared with them.

It’s great to have someone to talk to, but when you let your guard down too much, you might find yourself playing a dangerous game in which you are not winning. Don’t fall victim to scammers and online impersonators that can harm you financially or damage your online reputation.

Nobody planned for this global shutdown, but we’re here to help you by taking care of your online presence and digital footprint. Find out more about how professionals can help you protect your digital identity.

Stay Safe!

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from HOTforSecurity authored by Alina Bizga. Read the original post at: