The risks of not having controlled exposure to information (I)

Susana Alwasity    10 November, 2021
The risks of not having controlled exposure to information

Welcome to the digital era. This is an era in which we embrace technology, with what it offers us in almost every sphere of our lives. From carrying a large part of our lives on our mobile phones, our memories, online banking and shopping at the click of a button, it makes our daily tasks so much easier.

Most of these services come to us for free, but we know that everything has a price, so we benefit from this technology at the risk of our privacy.

Nowadays it is difficult for a person not to leave a trail of information in cyberspace. The advent of the internet and the euphoria of social networking have led to the emergence of new privacy risks. Often, when analysing the risks of exposing information on the internet, we may think “nobody is interested in me”, and this idea is a big mistake that leads us to neglect the control of the information exposed about us.

The vast majority of financial data thefts that result in monetary losses are perpetrated against the end user. That is, the ordinary customer, who could be any one of us.

The risks associated with our digital footprint

The trail we leave behind in cyberspace is known as a digital footprint. This footprint is what other users can know about an individual, based on the information that we ourselves have left on the network. Whether by registering on a website, by creating a profile on a social network, or by the posts we make on networks.

The more information that is available about us and the better the profiling capability, the more sophisticated the fraud will become, giving the potential offender more tools to carry out more targeted attacks.

With our data, we may be susceptible to identity theft, data leaks, extortion, scams or online fraud, not to mention potential physical security risks. We may also receive more spam and be susceptible to malicious emails or targeted phishing. At the same time, another risk associated with malicious emails is malware infections or the installation of malicious software on our devices.

On the other hand, the exposure of email provides the public with information on associated services, i.e., where we have a profile or account created, as well as information leaks that may be associated with IP data, geolocations and passwords.

On a physical level, the exposure of addresses and access to locations poses a risk. In some Latin American countries, in the case of a person of special interest due to his or her position or socio-economic status, it can even lead to risks of kidnapping or extortion. Similarly, it provides malicious actors with physical addresses to which to direct mail frauds, or additional information for identity theft.

Similarly, impersonation allows the contracting of external services such as insurance, credit or gambling accounts. Against organisations, it leads to online fraud such as CEO fraud or BEC fraud (known as Business Email Compromise), where cybercriminals impersonate a senior executive and send an email with the aim of obtaining unauthorised transfers or confidential information.

Finally, there may also be associated reputational and negative reputational risks. This may be due to comments on social media that are unfortunate or inappropriate for some reason, such as ideological reasons. This case has a greater impact among profiles of great responsibility and influence, managers and senior officials, public figures of special relevance due to their position or profession, but it can also affect any citizen at the work or professional level.

Do you want to know more? Next week we will tell you all about how to minimise the risks of our digital footprint.

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