I'm the guy who posted Instagram photos (filtered of course) from my vacation. I'm also the kind of person who tweets about buying overly expensive furniture because I fell for an elegant online ad that would change my life.
I thought my social media posts just betrayed my desperate need for attention and likes. However, it turns out that they are also a goldmine for hackers.
Using two of my posts – an Instagram check-in at a hotel on the West Coast of the USA and a tweet about a piece of furniture – a hacker was able to quickly find out my home address and my mobile number.
How? Both the hotel and the furniture company passed my personal information by phone to the hacker.
Hackers are doing this to me recently. And I'm here to tell you, it's worryingly easy for them – even for someone like me who's into technology. This is a lesson for all of us: think carefully about what you share on social media and how that information can be used against you, and next time you talk to your airline, hotel or bank you can Access your account and think about the questions they ask you. If you're just asked for your birthday and e-mail address to confirm that you're the one you claim to be, ask if they can give your account extra security by sending you a verification code. Unfortunately, many companies do not have such an option, but it's worth asking.
Tobac and her competitors in The Competition Invites large companies that often claim to work in the company's IT department. Tobac is not a coder, but she's been improvising since she was ten years old. Using those skills – and using other types of deception, such as an app that changes her voice to sound like a man – she persuades the person on the other end of the line to share private information.
This kind of hacking is called social engineering.
But Tobac is one of the good hackers – the guy known as the "white hat". (The bad ones are called "black hats.")
I asked Tobac to hack me.
Without my password and without hacking into my email account, she was able to retrieve my home address and phone number and steal my hard-earned hotel points. In perhaps the most cruel act of all, she was even able to change my seat on my five-hour flight from Vegas and move from a spacious exit to a middle seat in the back of the lavatories.