Your information is being harvested and you are the crop
What is your Rock Star Name? What would you look like as a member of the opposite sex? Have you ever seen these quizzes posted on social media, entered your information and published it to the world. It’s funny right? People engage with you & they try it too – then they share the quiz and their friends do it too…because its funny – right? WRONG! Your privacy is quite clearly at risk.
Are you aware that these quizzes can be traced back to big data mining companies? These are companies that harvest your information to sell you bit by bit to other companies in order to improve the effectiveness of the marketing industry.
Is your personal information stored on a server, barely protected waiting for a hacker to swipe it and exploit it? Probably.
Imagine for a moment that you’re trawling through a social media feed in a throw away moment of time. You are relaxed and your guard is down – one of your friends has posted a quiz, “What is your Alter Ego Rock-Star name?” It tickles your imagination and you decide to see where it leads…
The quiz goes on… Join your mother’s maiden name to the name of your favourite pet, and you have your Rock-Star’s name. It provides you with a quick chuckle and it feels good so you go on to view what names others have posted, having a good laugh at each one, at which point you have decided to join the fun and engage with the group.
At this point in reading my blog you have probably spent the minimum effort required to know what your alter ego name would be. I urge you now NOT to share it here. Why?
Your mother’s maiden name is what some banks will ask for when you need to access their services and your money.
When forgetting your online password one of the alternative questions may be “What is the name of your favourite pet?”
In isolation these seem harmless; however by preying on your willingness to do online quizzes it is possible to build a profile of you (cross-referenced to other little bits of your information) – which has the potential to be exploited.
Hackers can find and access this information, break into your online accounts, steal your identity, hold your data to ransom or defraud your bank accounts.
During my research I came across a large data mining company that specialises in online quizzes and found something that (in my opinion) is ultimately sinister.
Here are a short list of quizzes that I found:
How old is your face?
Can we guess your profession based on your face?
What age can you pass for?
What will your future daughter look like?
What will you look like at 80?
What length of hair looks best on you?
How will you age in 50 years?
Which celebrity do you look like?
That’s 8 quizzes in a single search, each one designed to give up your facial features to an unknown entity.
The only purpose this can serve is to create a database for facial recognition.
Why so many quizzes? Your face can look different depending on the situation, so a few samples of information will build a stronger profile resulting in less false positives when used. Another reason may be because you may not care how you look with longer hair but you may be more inclined to find out how you will age; so there are many different quizzes to ensure that they can catch you with at least one.
Do you want to be recognised in the high street or strip mall and have advertising directly targeted at you with alarming regularity?
In my opinion these technologies have been created because they can be – rather than to satisfy the end result of a totalitarian global government (sometimes discussed in popular media). This is scaremongering of extreme proportions but it is useful as a warning to avoid following these paths.
So in conclusion, protecting your information is like a vaccine against disease. By protecting your data and your face (and encouraging others to do the same) you will protect yourself and others from massive exploitation of personal information.
GDPR is being heralded as your saviour – if you want to know if this is the case – read my next blog.
Should you require any further best practices to protect your identity and privacy please contact us for our Personal Privacy Protection training.