8 things Kim Kardashian teaches us about staying safe on social media
However, it wasn’t her world-famous anatomy that secured global media coverage this week, but a daring Paris hotel robbery that saw the reality star bound and gagged while raiders made off with more than $10 million in jewellery. And, what she has highlighted as security issues provide some great lessons for business leaders, corporates and anyone with a social media account.
Instead of blaming poor security, Kim has blamed the heist on social media. The star admits her decision to “flaunt” her wealth and location on multiple social media channels was the cause of the terrifying raid.
In the days leading up to the daring robbery, Kim chronicled every aspect of her days at the Paris Fashion Week, showed off a $4m ring given to her by husband and music giant Kanye West and even went as far as saying “Can you guys guess where I am?”
Hours later Kim’s hotel room was attacked and she was robbed of millions of jewellery. But what lessons can we learn from Kim Kardashian’s social media mistakes, how can you or your business stay safe on social media and what do you need to know to stay secure online?
Here I share some top tips about protecting yourself, your business and your security when using social media.
1. Be careful about revealing your location on social media
It’s an obvious one, but something you see everybody doing. Too often people will shout about going on holiday for two weeks and then be deeply upset and puzzled about coming home to a burgled house. Think carefully about tagging yourself into specific locations, avoid discussing holidays away or hospital visits – it’s not difficult for thieves to find your home. If you want to share, do it when you get home.
2. Protect your home and location on social media
Security experts regularly tell celebrities and VIPs to avoid taking photos in front of distinctive landmarks or take photos in front or from hotel windows as both clearly identify your location. The same applies to us all. If you want to protect your home and locations, think carefully about how it will be depicted in images and ask how easy it would be to find on Google Street View? If it’s easy, the next time you boast about a weekend away, your home could be raided.
3. Avoid showing off valuables on social media
This is a lesson Kim Kardashian has obviously learnt the hard way by flashing a $4m ring on Snapchat. However, it’s something we can all learn from. If you’ve got a new shiny car, your own dazzling jewellery or an array of technology, think carefully about bragging online. It enables thieves to go window shopping on social media and the other images you’ve shared will tell them how to find you, how to get in and, potentially, when you’ll be away.
We recently had a litter of pedigree puppies and I avoided sharing any indication that our dog was pregnant or that the puppies had arrived as they are extremely attractive and valuable to potential thieves. The pictures I had were unbelievably cute, but I avoided temptation and just shared them when they’d been sold.
4. Always protect your personal details
Even today, there are still hundreds of people (idiots) who celebrate getting a new credit card by posting a picture of it on social media. Imagine the surprise when it then gets cloned. Make sure passwords are difficult to crack – always avoid “password” or “12345” or pet and children’s names – and be careful about sharing your history like old schools, mother’s maiden name, etc as these are almost always security questions. Don’t post contact details, except in direct messages, and be wary of sharing details with “clickbait” posts – these are the ones with the incredible “you won’t believe this!!!!!!!” headlines. Scammers want your details to snatch as much cash as possible from you. Too many willingly hand these over as they merrily share every aspect of their lives on multiple social media channels.
5. Protect your children online
Make sure images can’t be taken, altered and used for criminal purposes and be careful about revealing their location. I’m often terrified by posts that say: “I’ve dropped the kids off at school and auntie Jane will be collecting them as I’m escaping on holiday!”. It’s a gift to anyone planning an abduction. Also think carefully about the images you share. Your children have their own life to lead and these pictures will never be deleted and will be in the public domain for the rest of their lives.
6. Don’t add strangers on social media
As I’ve said, scammers are constantly trying to harvest your details and it’s a lot easier if you’ve added them as a friend because they can see everything about you. If you don’t know who they are – don’t add them. Getting 1,000 “friends” online will be worth less than your bank account.
7. Always check the background on social media images
For businesses, this is a major issue but it also applies to your personal prosperity and security. Many people will often take photos in the workplace, but could unwittingly show company or customer secrets in the background. Similarly, they may shout about an exciting new customer the company is chasing and destroy a competitive edge. All of these can lead to disciplinary action or termination. It’s also something to consider when at home, is there a bank statement on the noticeboard or have you unwittingly revealed where you keep your car keys?
8. ‘Don’t be a spanner on social media’
This is a quote from a business leader I know who is very social media savvy and has this simple message for his staff. Put simply, it means think carefully about what you post. Avoid criticising your employer, think very carefully about posting offensive material and protect your personal brand. Industrial tribunals are littered with the corpses of failed unfair dismissal claims arising from “personal” social media updates. Everything you post reflects on you, your family and your employer. The test I tell my friends to apply is “what if your grandma read it?”.
Social media has many benefits and is a hugely powerful tool if used appropriately. It all comes down to the personal or business brand you want to project to the world. Everything you reveal will carry a degree of risk, but you have to carefully weigh up that risk against the potential return – whether that’s financial or emotional.
Regardless of what you think, everything you post is public and can be shared to the world in an instant. Social media has transformed our world for the better and has allowed us to connect in ways few could have ever imagined. However, it does have risks, so follow these tips and stay safe.
Do you have any other tips to add? Please share them in the comments.