February 11, 2019

Netflix’s latest hit binge-watch, “You”, has been getting a heap of rave reviews…

But what is it all about?

What would you do for love? For a brilliant male bookstore manager who crosses paths with an aspiring female writer, this question is put to the test. A charming yet awkward crush becomes something even more sinister when the writer becomes the manager’s obsession. Using social media and the internet, he uses every tool at his disposal to become close to her, even going so far as to remove any obstacle –including people — that stands in his way of getting to her.

And, why exactly is The Defence Works writing a blog about it?

People often underestimate just how much information they’re sharing online and, whilst Netflix’s “You” might be slightly exaggerated in some areas (seriously, who doesn’t have a lock on their phone these days?) – the initial online stalking isn’t far from the truth.  But, these same “stalking” techniques are actually used by cybercriminals the world over to commit a host of other crimes.

It can be made all the easier for a criminal if you have an unusual name, as happened in “You”, but it’s still fairly easy with just a small piece of information available about you.  Chances are if someone knows your name, they’ll likely know the city you live in and so it often takes just a matter of seconds to find your Facebook or LinkedIn accounts.  It’s here, where, if you don’t have proper security settings, things can get really interesting (worrying).

What information am I sharing?

We’ve all been guilty of adopting social media without really thinking about the security of it – or how these sites might want to capitalise on our personal data.  Take an average Facebook account for example, it’s likely they’ll have little, if any security or privacy settings in place – meaning anyone can essentially view their information, as whilst they haven’t consciously made it public, they’ve left it public.  This can include details about your relationships, your family members and, of course, your photos.

How often do you friends wish you “happy birthday” on social media?  It’s great to be popular, but that’s also really valuable information, as now a cyber-criminal or stalker could know your date of birth.

And just how often do people post photos of themselves without thinking too much – perhaps they’re going on holiday, so post a photo of themselves at the airport.  If your profile is public (or if you befriend every man and his dog without really knowing them), then this information could be used to target your home address to commit a burglary.  Ok, so your address might not be on Facebook – but are you on the electoral roll?  If so, it might not take someone too long to take advantage by visiting just a few websites to obtain that data.

The same applies to people buying their first home or moving into a new flat – it’s tempting to post an image of the happy couple outside the front door but, as happened in Netflix’s “You”, this could lead to being able to identify your address pretty easily.

That said, it’s only easy for people to find out this sort of information about you if you’re making it easy for them.  I’d recommend everyone looks at securing their Facebook account, as well as thinking about their privacy too.  Here’s a useful blog to help you start securing your account in a few simple steps.

So, what can learn from Netflix’s “You”?

Obviously there are some simple, physical security measures you can take too – that, in truth, I’d be surprised if anyone isn’t already using, such as having PIN codes and passwords on devices (I think “You” exercised a bit of artistic licence with that one) but, that isn’t to say your password and PIN codes are any good.  Is your password or pin code anything to do with your date of birth?  Your partner’s date of birth?  Your dog’s name?  It’s important that these passwords and PIN codes aren’t easy to guess and they shouldn’t link to information that could be easily accessed via any online social media accounts.

People shouldn’t overly worry about the information they’re sharing on social media provided they take measure to lock it down and limit who has access to it (and they’re not being super free with sensitive information!).

It’s always a good idea to review the information you’re making available – even to those within your network.  When you next go to post, just have a think about whether this information could be used to compromise your accounts or your privacy.

And, lastly, remember, unlike in Netflix’s “You”, criminals don’t usually have such a chiselled jaw.

You can check out the official trailer for Netflix’s “You”, below.

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