Recently a tech savvy friend of mine posted her vaccine card on social media showing her name and date of birth. Immediately, I was concerned.
She wanted to celebrate a proud moment, share her beliefs with the world, and demonstrate how important this action was to her, and that’s why that moment of excitement overrode the knowledge of the threats she knows exist in the cyber world.
A side effect is an adverse, harmful or unwanted effect that happens as a result of getting a desired or needed. When we share vaccination cards (or any other medical records), we are increasing our risks of being victims of a cyber attack.
Social media platforms (such as Facebook and LinkedIn) are vulnerable when data is exposed either through a data breach, a hack, or data scraping. There is massive information (over 1 billion accounts) available and Cybermonsters want to take advantage of that so they can use this data to target us. Identity theft and cybercrime can be devastating financially, emotionally, and socially. When your information and identity are stolen, your physical and mental health will also suffer.
This can happen to anyone – it happened to me! My friend quickly deleted her vaccination card from her Facebook and Instagram Stories, after she became aware of the potential side effects. I can relate to this because I experienced being a victim of identity theft and I know I wasn’t thinking about how sharing my personal information would affect me in the long run, even after being in the technology fields for over a decade at that point!
Through my own recovery and my own journey in the cybersecurity industry, I’ve learned to prioritize my cyber safety practices. Now, I weigh in the potential side effects that can happen as a result of my decision, and I’ve been teaching thousands to do the same. We must ask ourselves how Cybermonsters could potentially misuse our information, so we can decrease our chances of becoming a victim of cyber crime or identity theft.
Some aspects of my daily cyber routines are very natural to me because they seem to be ingrained in my brain like verifying emails and messages before opening a link or document, or checking for updates to keep my computer and devices safe. In other instances, I make a conscious choice, deciding whether what I am about to do (such as sharing a particular piece of information on social media, answering an inquiry from someone I don’t know well or haven’t met, or using a new form of technology or service) is aligned with my values, my beliefs, my business and my dreams.
What could Cybermonsters do with the name and date of birth included in your vaccination card?
Identity is a puzzle and every piece of information matters. The more information Cybermonsters collect about an individual, the easiest it is to misuse or steal that information. Below are a few possible side effects of sharing your vaccine card online:
Impersonators could commit fraud or crimes as you, threatening your reputation and risking your legal and financial wellbeing.
Hackers could get access to your financial accounts, reset your login information, and steal your money. Cybermonsters could use your name and date of birth to obtain more details about you, such as your health insurance, medical records, medications and other medical services, and can ultimately file insurance claims as you.
Cyber criminals could sign up for new financial accounts, loans and credit cards, and you’ll end up being responsible for the debt.
Scammers could open utility accounts that you will eventually get billed for.
Your vaccination card could be listed for sale on the dark web and made available to those who don’t want to get vaccinated but need proof of vaccination (either for travel, work, or schooling purposes).
The information listed in your vaccine card may include the type of vaccine you received, as well as dates and locations. Cybermonsters could use this information to craft phishing scams tailored to you. For example, they may impersonate the vaccination center and send a fake message or alert that claims your information has been compromised and ask you to provide more data or even money!
There are many ways to share your excitement of getting vaccinated, while keeping your information safe from hackers, scammers and Cybermonsters. Follow all or at least one of these simple steps:
You can use your fingers, tape or any other creative way to cover your personal details in the card and still share your picture. This is super simple! Show your arm, bandage, sticker with a joyful expression.
Check if your data is available to Cybermonsters online https://haveibeenpwned.com/
Review your social media profile settings to take proactive charge as to what personal information you are keeping in the platform and specify who can see that information.
Make sure your data, such as your date of birth, phone number, email, and mailing or residential address are safe and secure.
Create an email address just for social media account use.
Change your passwords in social media and enable a second method of verification besides your password.
Be Intentional, Aware and Mindful with social media connection requests or messages from unknown people.
How will you celebrate your vaccination day? Share with us in the comments below.