Social networks and micro-blogging sites can be fantastic tools for networking, sharing information and staying in touch with friends. Unfortunately, they can also put us at risk of physical theft, if precautions are not taken.
Easy to remove and possessing a high resale value, IT equipment is likely to be a popular target for thieves scouring the internet for opportunities. So how can you keep your IT equipment safe when using social media sites?
1) Be careful what you tweet: Boasting about how many Macs or iPads visitors, staff or pupils can make use of will certainly attract interest; unfortunately it may be the interest of criminals. Take care to avoid accidentally advertising your IT assets on social networking sites or blogs. Avoid listing your IT equipment on your website, or if you are a public sector organisation or school, posting online press releases or telling local newspapers if you have purchased a lot of new equipment.
2) Beware of the office shutdown: The last thing that you want after a bank holiday is to find out that your laptops have been stolen. Of course you need to let your customers know that your staff will not be at work during the office shutdown, but it may be better to write to them offline, rather than post publicly on your website, where anyone, including criminals can see. If IT thieves think that your office will be vacant, they may be tempted to strike.
3) Update your privacy settings: To stop prying eyes snooping on your personal information, lock down you privacy settings on Facebook so that only your ‘friends’ can see your posts. This way, if you do happen to mention details about your workplace, only those that you know and trust will be able to see this.
4) Avoid geo-location: Location based social networks where users ‘check-in’ can be a lot of fun, but they can also pose security risks if used irresponsibly. By checking-in at a location other than your workplace, you may be revealing to others that your office is vacant, making it an easy-picking for thieves. This is especially important if you are self-employed and work alone from home. If this sounds like an overreaction, check out pleaserobme.com, a site that aggregates publicly shared check-ins to show “recent empty homes” and “new opportunities” to thieves in an attempt to show how many people are putting themselves at risk.
Social media can be a useful tool for both business and personal use; don’t spoil your fun by putting your business at risk of IT theft.