It’s long been suspected that technologically savvy burglars are using social networks to identify empty homes and now a recent report seems to support the idea.
Home Security company Friedland spoke to 50 people with a previous conviction for burglary to ask about the ‘value’ of personal information posted on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare.
The overwhelming majority of the “ex-burglars” (presumably they’ve since reformed) “strongly believed” that such social networking services are currently being used to target properties and almost three quarters reckoned that Google Street View played a role in home thefts.
It’s important, however, to note that the report doesn’t say that burglars are using social networks, just that people with a bit of previous suspect it to be the case.
Even so, it’s a timely warning about sharing too much information online, particularly if you’re not completely up to speed with the different security settings for different social networks.
Facebook does allow fine control over who sees any information you post, but you need to take the time to organise your ‘friends’ into appropriate groups and tweak your account’s security settings to ensure that strangers and mere acquaintances can’t monitor your every move.
And, of course, Facebook has a habit of updating its settings every once in a while and resetting various security options at their lowest setting, so you need to keep a close eye on your account if you use it to share your whereabouts.
Similarly, unless you lock your account and only allow close friends to follow your updates, sharing any location information on Twitter is also a bad idea — as is tagging tweets with geolocation data that makes it clear you’re pitched up in the middle of nowhere.
Google Street View is more problematic, not least since this isn’t something that can anyone can opt of.
Although the images Google provides are far from recent, it can still help thieves identify homes with a valuable vehicle parked in a driveway and give advance information on any security measures in place — although it sometimes has the opposite effect...