Summer has all too suddenly approached and thousands are jetting off on their summer holidays. How do we know? Well, thanks to countless airport check-ins, poolside selfies, scenic views, and status’ declaring holiday makers won’t be making their journey home for another 2 weeks, burglars can located your every move.
In fact, one survey suggests that 75% of convicted burglars have admitted thieves often turn to social media to target their victims. Unfortunately this form of attack is on the rise as criminals turn their hands to social media stalking in order to facilitate their crimes. The good news however, is that you can minimise your social footprint and make their jobs much more difficult with just a few simple rules.
Social Media: The Problem
Social media is a fantastic platform for keeping in touch with friends and family all over the world. It is suggested by The Statistics Portal that by next year (2016) there will be 2.13 billion social network users worldwide, up from 1.4 billion in 2012.
Sharing everyday aspects of our lives on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has become an all too often occurrence. Whether it’s checking in on Facebook, events on Twitter, or family & friend snaps on Instagram it seems as though the general population can’t resist showing off their busy lives. However, this is becoming a huge problem as individuals fail to understand the risks associated with freely sharing this information.
Let’s take Ricky Hatton as an example. The former world champion boxer had his home raided in February 2015 when burglars stole watches worth £28,000. The break-in took place after a tweet went live announcing that he would be spending his day in London. This proves the theory that is highlighted in the media so often; social media is an advertising tool for criminals.
Lack Of Awareness
There are two branches to the problem here:
- Individuals lacks of knowledge at the ease of using this information
- Not understanding the available security options.
A quick search and burglars can find empty houses in any given area and whether or not recent social activity indicates to a prime target. Social network security is usually very good, but it is up to you as well to ensure that you aren’t revealing addresses or personal information. In fact social network security can provide reassurance based on your requirements to prevent the rise in criminal activity being bred online.
Checking-In: Burglars Check You Out
Checking-in online might seem like a harmless activity but criminals only need a rough idea of where you live to be able to access Google Street View and suss out your home. Similarly checking in at the airport is a common mistake for many advertising their empty home.
Be careful when sharing this information, especially considering privacy settings on Facebook and similar platforms. The same goes when uploading photos as many apps automatically use GPS. So even when you haven’t checked yourself in at a specific location you could be giving this away with photo updates. You can turn off location tracking in your smartphone settings under ‘Location’.
Photography: A Snap Away From Burglary
Did you know that every photo you load online is filled with valuable information including when & where it was taken as well as what kind of camera or smartphone was used to take it? EXIF meta-data contained in image files can reveal a great deal about you. For instance many camera phones such as iPhones automatically include GPS location image data. Frighteningly, this information can easily be used to track a user’s specific location. The good news however is that you can remove this information from your images.
Additionally you should avoid revealing information such as street names, personal info, and obvious landmarks within your photos. You might post a holiday snap to your twitter, and then distribute across other platforms such as a blog, Pinterest, and Instagram. Some clever criminal minds can then download the photo and run a reverse image search leading them to all these multiple platforms which may house potentially damaging information.
Thefts As a Result of Social Media Sharing
In the UK alone theft offences account for 47% of all crime figures. Whilst usually something out of our realm of control, thanks to the progression of technology and out obsession with social media more and more people are falling into the trap of revealing too much online.
According to one survey conducted by Safe Shop 50% or respondents stated that they have tagged themselves while abroad on holiday while 43% stated that they had tagged themselves at the airport. Unfortunately due to such mistakes 8% of returning holidaymakers come home to find that their houses have been broken into.
Social Media Is Leaving Us Vulnerable
The ways in which we engage on social media, whether showing off our latest gadgets or boasting about impending holidays, are leaving home across the country vulnerable. Keep in mind a few of these useful tips to minimise your social advertising:
Settings – This is your main point of defence. Keep viewable information to a minimum so that no one outside of your trusted group of friends and family can take advantage of your details.
Photos – These can be seen as confirmation that you aren’t home. Ensure you enhance your security settings, including Location Tracking, and consider changing your posting habits and upload when you are home.
Location – Your address is the most sensitive information that could prevent your home from being targeted. Avoid displaying your address anywhere on social media.
Help and Information From Thornhill
Whilst we can’t have any control over how you use social platforms we can help protect your home against break-ins. Secure your home with Digital Locks designed to enable quick and secure access into your home. You should also consider investing in a domestic safe to protect and secure all your treasured possessions and valuables.
For more information when safeguarding you home, why not give our friendly and experienced team a call on 0117 967 4994.