SecurityBrief New Zealand - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
Story image
Burglars using social media to target victims
Mon, 5th Oct 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Various social media platforms have become new tools for burglars, according to a former policeman.

Marsden Hulme, who now sits as general manger for security firm Vivint, says burglars are increasingly using social media to virtually case potential targets, and people should be wary about posting holiday plans online.

Hulme says many people are not as careful as they should be with their personal information, as social media becomes ever more present in modern life.

“By carelessly accepting friend requests or making their posts visible to everyone they can unwittingly provide all the information a would-be-thief could ask for with their social media posts,” he explains.

Hulme says this can cover everything from what high-value purchases they've made recently to the dates and times that they're out off the house.

"Often on holidays we want to share the experiences with friends and family, posting photographs and status updates for the grandparents to see, but all we're doing is letting would be burglars know our movements," he says.

Hulme says other websites like Google Maps allow burglars to see photographs of all the individual houses on a street without ever having to show their faces, letting them gauge security and spot easy access points like side-entrances before arriving on the scene.

"A recent UK survey conducted on burglars showed four out of five of them said they had used social media," he notes.

"One of the criminals surveyed, said that we are “living in the age of the digital criminal" and people are taking advantage of social media to access information about would-be victims.

Hulme shares the social media behaviours to watch out for:

• Holiday countdowns. Posting that you can't wait for your trip in a seven days means that the perfect time to rob your house in in eight days.

• Location check-ins. Services like Facebook let you geo-tag yourself, letting would-be thieves know exactly where you when you're out of the house.

• Photos of the inside of your house: A few photos of your living room and bedrooms can be enough for people to learn the layout of your home, letting them plan a quick in-and-out raid.

• Public RSVPs: Letting the world know that you're going to a party from 6 - 10pm on July the 29th also lets unscrupulous people know exactly when you'll be gone from the house.