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Burglars Target Homes via Social Media

Casing Your Facebook

Experts and police officials are warning people to be careful what they post on social media sites over Christmas, as criminals have begun to monitor your profiles to find their next target.

Millions take the opportunity over their Christmas time-off to travel, whether it be a few hours away to visit family or half way around the world for that trip of a lifetime. These are the events we love to share, but that may be a mistake in today’s digital age.

In years past, criminals would have no way of knowing if you were home, short of peering through your window or sitting watching the door, but with millions of holiday photos and status updates posted daily announcing empty houses, social media has become a goldmine for criminal activity. In fact, in a survey carried out in the UK, over 78% of convicted burglars believe social media is being widely used to find targets.

Even photos you believe to be perfectly safe can carry revealing information that is automatically uploaded alongside. This is known as EXIF data, and includes information such as the time and place you took your favourite snap, along with the device used. Burglars with this knowledge can easily find valuable information, even your home address. Thankfully some sites, including Facebook, will automatically remove this data, but sadly that’s not the case for all.

Another tool used to fish for information is the reverse image search. If you’re posting photos to multiple sources, such as a public blog and a private social media profile, you could be leaving yourself vulnerable. Upon finding the photo on your blog, criminals can conduct a reverse image search to find the image anywhere else it was posted. Of course this leads them to your profile, which does contain sensitive information.


Potential burglars only need a vague idea of where you live to track you down, from which point tools like Google Street-view can be used to pinpoint your home, and even plan entry and exit points.

Possibly even more worrying is that they often know exactly what they are looking for, as excited kids post statuses boasting about their shiny new games console or their new iPhone. This basically provides them with a shopping list of the most valuable items to be found in your home, and often exactly which room to find it in.

So, what can you do to protect yourself and your possessions this Christmas?

Of course, follow the standard practices first. A visible alarm system will deter around 90% of burglars, and most will choose not to attack a home where they believe a dog to be present. 
In terms of safeguarding yourself online, don’t make it too easy. Make sure you set your privacy on social media sites to restrict access to anyone outside your friends list, and don’t be over indulgent in your sharing. Rather than checking in on Facebook at the airport or resort hotel, wait until your return home to share your photos and stories. 
That way, by the time anyone knows your house has been sat empty, and full of expensive gifts, you’re already back home.

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working part time as a content writer, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @SamAtSMF

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.  
Burglars Target Homes via Social Media Reviewed by Unknown on Saturday, December 27, 2014 Rating: 5
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