Thieves and criminals are everywhere these days, from old-fashioned pickpocketing to more recent crime evolutions like phishing and identity theft. The latter is not only a threat to everyone but is also a constant, ongoing risk. If you aren’t careful with key pieces of personal information, you could find yourself the victim of a range of fraudulent activity, with potentially thousands of dollars in debt or worse.
While there are countless ways that cybercriminals can steal your information, many of them are relatively simple to avoid or prevent. With more and more social media network activity, however, it’s becoming much more common for people to just volunteer the information unwittingly. One of the most common ways this happens is by people taking part in widely-shared “name games” or similar memes, that produce funny results but put you at risk for someone stealing your information.
The Risk Of Name Games on Social Media
Name games on social media platforms like Facebook are infamous for mining some very important personal information that people might not otherwise volunteer. Most of these games or quizzes are created under the guise of helping you determine your fictional alter ego, and have titles like “find out your soap opera name” or “what’s your exotic dancer stage name” and have several parts to them.
To produce a fictional first, middle, and last “name” from your existing information, you will often find that each part of the “game” requires a piece of personal information that is not likely to just be given out freely. For example, one popular method might ask you for the name of your first pet which will become your first name, your favourite colour as the middle name, and the street you grew up on as your last name.
While this sounds relatively innocuous and may produce some incredibly funny results, the danger is clear for anyone that has had to set up security questions on any secure website. Questions like these are popular for security questions on banking sites, to either recover an account or reset a password. This means that if someone already has a few pieces of the puzzle, your comment on a name game thread could be the final piece that allows the hacker into your bank account, draining the funds and leaving you as another victim of cybercrime.
Sharing Multiplies The Danger
While possible, it’s unlikely that a cybercriminal would stalk and target one individual, the biggest risk lies in the number of people that contribute or post on threads with a name game meme. In some cases, with the number of shares that a particular meme gets, it’s not uncommon to see name games with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of replies.
This means that with a little programming, and a popular meme, hackers can get incredibly long lists of potential security question answers right alongside the full name of someone that might use them. These are then compared with lists of user IDs and passwords that are often bought wholesale on the dark web, and from there it’s a very simple affair to match the user and password information which often contains an email address, to the information scraped from the game responses.
Once your information is out there, there’s a lot that can be done with it. Your banking can be affected, hackers can take out credit cards and even large loans in your name. Before you know it you could have an unbelievable amount of debt that just suddenly appears on your credit report, and it can take years and long legal processes to finally be free from the negative effects of such an ordeal. In some cases, you may even need to get an entirely new social security number to be free of fraud.
Don’t Share Too Much
We all do it sometimes, the games are hilarious and can be very entertaining, just remember that when you share that information outside of content that you can control, it can be dangerous. Have a chuckle about it with your friends, but be sure to not post your answers on any thread with visibility outside of your close friends, or you could find yourself the victim of cybercrime quicker than you think.