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Passing the time online

Apr 28, 2020
Passing the time online

Many people are bored at home these days. As they shelter at home and social distancing orders are being expanded, folks are more and more turning to the electronic world for news and information and to relieve the boredom of being cooped up. I am used to working in my home office. I spend many working days here as I service our clients. But being at home today, every day, and with no clear end in sight, many of my online contacts on social media are getting bored. I can tell. And they’re letting their guards down.

Financial institutions spend immense amounts of time, energy and resources to provide security to customers. And our customers are blowing it in the name of relief from the monotony of being home.

How? Online questionnaires. I see them all over Facebook, and I’m told they’re on Instagram too. Probably other social networks as well. What’s the first car you drove? What’s your mother’s maiden name? Where did you and your spouse meet? Today, I learned a lot about two of my online friends. I learned some obscure things about one: her maiden name (this one’s not so obscure); her mother’s maiden name; her father’s last name; his mother’s maiden name. But it didn’t end there. Just a few minutes later, I learned the same information about one of her friends who answered the call to play the game. Another of my friends took a similar but slightly different quiz. I just learned her college roommate’s full name. Sound familiar? Sure do — they sound like challenge questions. 

The second friend I mentioned loves these quizzes. I also learned she’s been in her profession for 22 years. I know about a professional license she has. I know her field of study in both her bachelor’s program and her master’s program. I know her son’s birthday because she posted about it. I know she loves the smell of fresh-brewed coffee and doesn’t want to be disturbed while she drinks it. I know her high school, her high school class year and the three colleges she attended. I also know her birthday (at least her Facebook, possibly fake, birthday). The list goes on and on. And it’s not limited to these two friends.

This person has almost 900 Facebook friends. Are they all good, honest people? Probably. But maybe not. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bushel. Who are your friends, and who will use this against you through social engineering or some sort of scam?

Don’t let this time of hunkering down and uncertainty lull your customers into letting their guards down for what seems to be some harmless fun but that could impact them in the future.


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