Public warns against oversharing info online

Ben Ouano, chief operating officer at Resecurity, says the widespread adoption of social media has inadvertently opened doors for cybercriminals to launch sophisticated attacks.
Ben Ouano, chief operating officer at Resecurity, says the widespread adoption of social media has inadvertently opened doors for cybercriminals to launch sophisticated attacks. Katlene O. Cacho-Laurejas

A CYBERSECURITY analyst warns people against sharing too much personal information on social media as data provided online can be exploited as tools for malicious activities.

Speaking at a recent forum dubbed “Cyberthreat Intelligence: Evolving Risks,” Ben Ouano, chief operating officer at Resecurity, said the widespread adoption of social media has inadvertently opened doors for cybercriminals to launch sophisticated attacks.

He said that while social media platforms offer connectivity and convenience, they also serve as fertile ground for hackers seeking to gather sensitive information and orchestrate cyberattacks.

Hackers capitalize on wealth information online to craft targeted phishing attacks, launch social engineering schemes and even orchestrate identity theft.

“Social media is a big threat vector or can be used as a threat vector for threat actors to infiltrate,” said Ouano. “So, what social media has done? It’s great that we can connect, but the pitfalls against it are that we show the interconnectivity and the threat actors use those to exploit.”

One of the primary concerns Ouano highlighted is the oversharing culture that is prevalent on social media platforms.

He said users often divulge sensitive information such as their full names, birthdates, addresses and even financial details without fully grasping the potential repercussions.

Ouano said Filipinos should learn not to post anything about identifiable information such as addresses, phone numbers, or even birthdays.

“Many people ask me, what about if there’s a question I need to answer. Answer it incorrectly, but remember that you answered it incorrectly right? That’s really the key to it. And then in terms of that, I would not post a lot of movement,” he said, warning that “too much information made available online would allow hackers to know your location, start monitoring your movements and track everything about you.”

“When they monitor your activity, what you post and then of course Facebook will tell you what are the relationships of who, they’re going to threaten, understand your family and go after them,” he warned.

US-based Resecurity and Cebu-based 888 Tech Exchange Ventures are ramping up cybersecurity awareness efforts to safeguard the extensive databases of companies, industries and government agencies from cyber threats. The forum is just one of the many activities lined up to raise cybersecurity awareness.

According to Ouano, without an understanding of the threat and awareness that malicious actors are attempting to infiltrate the Philippines, effective defense becomes challenging.

“These threat actors are lurking and the objective is to take away the personally identifiable information of Filipino citizens and use it to monetize,” he said.

With companies embracing the work-from-home setup, Ouano advised employees to prioritize cyber hygiene practices.

“They should be careful not to log in to open networks, not to use untrusted networks. Use a VPN (virtual private network) if they have access to that, and then be mindful of what they post on social media,” he said.

For organizations and companies, Ouano advised adopting a layered security approach as protection against cyber threats.

“Layered security means you build layers of security that will help you in case one layer of security gets breached, there’s another layer that comes in and to contain or provide protection from further infiltration,” he said.

“If you already have systems in place, provide an overlap… A layered security approach is often best because threat actors have to navigate multiple layers of security to get in your network,” he explained.

Academe collaboration

Moreover, the two companies are receptive to partnering with schools to integrate cybersecurity education from an early age, recognizing its integral role in technological advancements and innovation.

A robust partnership with schools will also facilitate the development of cybersecurity professionals, addressing the current shortage in the industry.

“There are over three million jobs in cybersecurity worldwide. We don’t have enough qualified people to fulfill that. That’s a fact simply because we don’t have the curriculum for that, but it will be a good way to start,” said Renn Nograles, president and general manager of 888 Tech Exchange Ventures, referring to their planned collaboration with schools.

“We want to help cultivate the education so that we can produce the next generation of cyber warriors in the Philippines. We think it’s very important for the Philippines to be able to stand up to these threats… We are firmly committed to education, to training at whatever cost it takes to make people aware and then be able to defend against these threats,” added Ouano.

Resecurity at present has partnerships with the academe in the Middle East, where it actively trains budding cybersecurity professionals. / KOC

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