Social media can be ‘mined’ by criminal gangs to find out a wealth of material used to target your home, accounts and family, a cyber conference in Lincolnshire has been told.
Cyber security expert David Benford, who works internationally with military, TV, corporates and law enforcement agencies, showed delegates how easy is it to build a profile of individuals through their social media.
Mr Benford, director of Blackstage Forensics, told more than 100 people who attended Cyber Safe Lincolnshire at the Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa, that criminal gangs now mine open data sources to find out enormous amounts of information on people and companies.
Social media sites such as Spotify, WhatsApp, Facebook, E-bay and Amazon all provide enough crumbs of information to allow criminals to build profiles of people including phone numbers, home address, hobbies and interests.
Photos posted on social media add to that information by showing where people are, where they work and their regular movements and haunts.
Even planning applications, now available online, leave a trail of information which often include phone numbers and email addresses as well as home addresses.
Mr Benford was just one of the speakers at the conference, which was organised by the Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones and Business Lincolnshire.
Other speakers included:
• Tony Blake, from Take Five to Stop Fraud – a national campaign that offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud.
• Stuart Green, managing director of SJG Digital Engineering – a leading company in the field of cyber security helping schools, charities defence contractors and other businesses and organisations protect themselves from hackers.
• Rob Pugh, East Midlands Special Operations Unit in the Cyber Crime Unit.
• Calum Murray and Catherine Livesey from the digital development business support team from Natwest.
• Stuart McFarlane-Bedford, digital development business support programme leader from Business Lincolnshire.
Mr Jones, who opened the event, said: “The conference was both fascinating and eye-opening. It is amazing and quite how much criminals can find out about us and how easy it is.
“The message that came through quite clear is that none of us do enough to protect ourselves online. Most people haven’t spent £20 to protect their phone from hacking but will spend hundreds protecting their homes or cars.
“We all need to work harder and a crucial stage in that process is making people aware of the dangers.
“The conference has been an important step in the right direction and I will be looking at how we can learn from the experts in our efforts to protect residents from these dangers.”
Emma Brealey, director at Petwood Hotel and a delegate at the conference, said: “Cyber security is a crucial issue for us, both in terms of protecting our business and our customers.
“I found the conference really useful and the information about security and emerging threats will certainly help us ensure our own systems continue to be secure.”