Australians are being urged to cyber cull and pause before they post. This will help protect them from cyber criminals, fraudsters, organised crime gangs and sex offenders.
The Australian Federal Police is warning that social media users are posting too much personal and professional information, with the result that some have become easy targets for criminals.
Warning to single parents and those in sensitive jobs
AFP Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough said the advice was not just for younger people, but for government employees, those who worked in sensitive areas, and single parents who revealed the ages of their children on dating websites.
“You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and let them know your security clearance or that you work in payroll in your organisation,” Gough said.
“You also wouldn’t give a stranger your phone number, your date of birth or provide them with a photo album of your children.
Gough added: “But too many Australians are essentially doing this by posting this information online and not turning on strict privacy controls. Pause before you post, ask yourself [if] you really need to reveal your personal details.”
Criminals may pretend to be a prospective employer
The assistant commissioner said some social media users could be targeted because of their position within a company, government agency or university. The person contacting them may pretend to be an employer or recruiter wanting to hire, and groom a victim so as to understand what access or knowledge they have within an organisation.
In other cases, people are putting their financial security at risk.
“Criminals are harvesting information, stealing identities and then stealing victims’ money, or taking out credit cards in victims’ names. In some cases, criminals have been able to obtain personal information and access financial accounts,” Gough warned.
According to the AFP, people who are selling second-hand goods on websites and provide their mobile phone number can leave themselves vulnerable to phishing attacks. Personal information is a valued commodity for criminals, who can sell this on to others in forums on the dark web.
Sex offenders target single parents on dating sites
“We also know child sex offenders have looked for victims by targeting single parents on dating websites,” Gough stated.
“We are also urging all parents to think twice about posting photographs of their kids. Some platforms do not automatically remove geolocation data from images taken on mobile phones allowing for identification of where you work, your home address or other private locations.”
Advice from the police is that social media users should review location, privacy settings and parental controls. They should also review and turn off location settings, such as GPS, when these are unnecessary.
Ensure privacy settings are secure, and set to ‘Friends only’ or ‘Private’. Research parental controls to see if they are suitable for your family.