Thursday, February 25, 2010

Are you inviting people to rob you?

Re-posted from The Informant

Social networking has become wildly popular. It seems everyone’s tweeting, Google Buzzing, Foursquaring or Facebooking nowadays. It’s all about what you’re doing right now and where you’re doing it.

But this apparently insatiable appetite we’ve developed for information “as it’s happening” carries with it a hidden danger. When you “tweet” a friend or “Foursquare” a business associate that you’re en route to your favorite vacation destination, you’re also sending a message to criminals that you’re not at home and that your place of residence and all of its contents are theirs for the taking. That’s right. Thieves are keeping close tabs on status updates to help them select their targets. It’s been dubbed “Internet shopping for burglars.”

A new website called helps to highlight the potential dangers of location-sharing by simply combining publicly shared check-ins. In a hypothetical bid to accommodate would-be burglars and thus, raise awareness of the problem, check-ins are referenced as “recent empty homes” and “new opportunities.” With an estimated 40% of social network users routinely sharing information about their whereabouts, it’s no surprise that criminals regard these platforms as “target rich environments.”

When you share your location via a social network like Google Buzz or Foursquare, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. It’s probably best to skip on the details regarding your whereabouts and always refrain from sharing your address anywhere online. It’s either that or start telling everyone that your cousin- the Navy Seal- is staying at your place while he decompresses from his recent tour of duty in Afghanistan.

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