written by Chris Griesemer

Is your identity really as secure as you think it is? How big is your social media footprint? What the heck is your social media footprint? I found out the answer to all these questions at The Missouri Bankers Association annual Technology Conference in February.

The founder and president of Secure Network Technologies, Inc., Steve Stasiukonis, was one of the presenters at the conference. His company specializes in information security but also provides digital investigation services. He explained a new trend of companies being interested in their employee’s or future employee’s digital presence on the internet and whether these people are at risk of having their identity stolen.

He shared a real life scenario about a company that hired Secure Network Technologies to see if they could steal the identity of an employee. The following is a one thousand foot view of what happened.

Real Life Scenario
They first took the employee’s name and looked it up on Facebook. Facebook gave them a name, gender, home town and a picture of the employee in a hockey uniform. Then they used online people finding services like Spokeo and Intelius to confirm his hometown, discovered his phone number and an email address. Having an email address allowed them to use a program that searches hundreds of social media sites and produces a relationship report. They discovered the email address was associated with a college. They decided to register online with the college as this person. It asked for last name and the graduation year. Obviously they had the last name but not the graduation year. They thought they were stuck until they saw a “Find My Record” button on the schools webpage. This button displayed all students and when they graduated. After identifying the correct name, it then asked them for a birthday.

Remember when I said his Facebook picture was of him in a hockey uniform? They looked up all hockey teams in his home town and found the website of a team he used to play on. When you click on the stats page, all of his career stats came up including his birthdate. They went back to the college registration site and entered the birthdate. This gave them complete access to all his profile information. They went to the college and requested transcripts. Since they had all of the necessary information they filled out the transcript request form. Once they received the transcripts they noticed at the top of the page was his social security number.

With the information they had, they could now fill out credit card applications at different stores and completely destroy his identity. At this point they stopped and reported back to the company what they had found out.

Protect Your Identity
His advice for social media users is to be very cautious of what you post online. The more information you have online the more susceptible you could be to identity theft. Be cautious of status postings on Facebook because they could let someone know if you are still at work or not. The main point is to continue to be cautious of the information you allow others to see about yourself on the internet. Remember that something as simple as a picture could help identity thieves get one step closer to capturing your identity.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call Chris Griesemer at The Whitlock Company 417-881-0145.