There have been a raft of warnings circulating on Facebook for years (but seem to have had a recent uptick) warning that memes that are shared on social media that encourage people to post trivia about their background or childhood actually have an ulterior motive - they allow criminals to collect useful information about you to get past security questions, for social engineering and for password hints.

Here is one example from Crime-Stoppers Victoria's Facebook page:

PSA: Just. Stop. Posting. Reponses to this crap. It's social engineering. They are designed to get password hints, among other things. Tell your friends, too. And their friends.

Other examples: CMIT Solutions Lifehacker

I think these claims sound unlikely. Are there cases of criminals using such techniques on social media?

  • 1
    I couldn't really find a reported instance, but what exactly makes you skeptical? I found a theoretical example which sounds very realistic to me: "if a hacker knows you’ve been to a Radiohead concert, the message, “did you see Radiohead’s newest song? Just dropped today!” will have a much higher chance of [you clicking on a bad link]."
    – Jordy
    Jun 4, 2021 at 8:02
  • 1) Because if my friend shares an image on their wall, and I respond that I have been to a Radiohead concert, the hacker will never see it.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 4, 2021 at 15:44
  • 2) Because why bother targeting me, when they could spam everyone a Radiohead message? Is this supposed to involve widespread harvesting or focused attacks?
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 4, 2021 at 15:45
  • 3) Because this is exactly the sort of message that makes a great urban legend - painting a fear of the new, giving the illusion of control, and giving a way of reassuring yourself (while blaming victims) with a "just world fallacy".
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 4, 2021 at 15:49
  • 3
    Regarding point (1), I'm not on social media, but I believe that your posts are public if you react to an influencer. (2) Seeing that it is about social engineering, my guess is that they are going for a targeted attack. In my area it is not uncommon to get a text message from a "relative" who "lost" his/her phone and needs some money wired. The perpetrator usually knows some significant details about the victim - so a targeted attack doesn't seem unlikely IMO. Regarding point 3, I think you are absolutely right, this does have the hallmarks of a modern chain letter. No arguments here.
    – Jordy
    Jun 4, 2021 at 16:00


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .