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How Public is Your Private Data?

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How easy a target are you making yourself for hackers?

You may think you're being careful with your online data. You take all the recommended precautions and carefully configure your privacy settings on Facebook, go by a pseudonym on Twitter, and only connect with people you've actually met in person on LinkedIn.

How Public is Your Private Data?

You Probably Aren't as Safe as You Think

You may think that keeps you relatively safe from hackers, stalkers, and identity thieves. But you'd be surprised at the information even a casual Internet user armed with some basic Google search skills can piece together about you.

Have you ever used the same username or pseudonym at more than one website? How many online accounts and profiles have you abandoned that are still online, giving out information about you? Did you ever delete that old MySpace profile?

People Can Easily Find Out Vast Amount of Information About You

Using just basic online search techniques, any interested party out there can put together a lot of revealing information about you and the details of your life.

Savvy identity thieves can use your information to file false worker's compensation claims, steal your Social Security benefits, get fake passports, put their medical bills in your name, give your information for their speeding tickets or crimes, or steal money from your bank accounts. And these types of thefts can be much harder to spot than you'd imagine.

This Isn't a Small Risk

It may seem like a small risk, but the rise in identity crime makes it clear that all of us are potential victims. Identity theft is now the most common consumer complaint in the United States by far, numbering over 10 million cases a year. That's an over 20% increase from last year, with a new case occurring every 2 seconds.

What online accounts and websites are giving out your personal information, and how can you protect yourself while still taking advantage of the benefits of social media and modern technology? Check out the details below to learn how and why to keep your information safe online.

How Public is Your Private Info?

How Public is Your Private Information?

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn - nowadays it seems there are too many social media sites to keep track of.

Small components of your online identity can be pieced together to build a larger, more invasive profile.

And in the wrong hands, who knows what will be done with it?

Your Social Media Identity

If you openly share your details on various social media sites, it's easy to find out your location, background and interests.


  • Employment
  • Education
  • Home town
  • Current city
  • Relationship status
  • Name
  • Photos
  • Interests
  • Events attended
  • Political learnings


  • Location via Tweets (using Twitter's geolocation feature)
  • Location via check-ins (such as Foursquare)
  • Interests and opinions
  • Photos


  • Locations you visit
  • Location of your home (if you or others check in)


  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Employment
  • Education


  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Home address


  • Interests
  • Location of your home(if you happen to post a lot of pictures from there)
  • Locations you visit

Your Public Records Identity

Even if you don't use social media, your details can still be found online.

Data brokers are companies that buy and sell your private information. Some examples include:

  • intelius.com
  • zabasearch.com
  • anywho.com
  • spokeo.com
  • pipl.com
  • peoplelookup.com
  • zoominfo.com

Many data brokers aggregate personal information on one page. Simply type in a name and general area, and the basic details you require are a click away.

What Information Can Data Brokers Get?

  • Phone numbers
  • Information on new and old social media sites
  • Background checks - police reports, arrest records, etc.
  • Reverse lookups
  • Email address
  • House address
  • Value of house
  • Name of family members
  • Estimated net worth
  • Hobbies
  • Social media profiles

Tracking Your Identity: One Step Further

Using the basic information above, people can use other online services to gain further details about your life.

Google Street View

  • Typing in an address found via social media into Google Street View can bring up an image of your house.
  • Just from this image, you can see that this person is a satellite customer and that the house has a burglar alarm.


  • Reverse image search engines can find where an image came from, how it's been used and where other versions of it exist.
  • It can be used to easily match social media profile photos with 'anonymous' dating profile photos.


  • Googling your name can come up with surprising results if others have been writing about you unknowingly.


  • Exchangeable image file format (EXIF) data embedded in photos can reveal the GPS coordinates of where the image was shot.

A Hacker's Paradise

Armed with sensitive information, hackers can easily crack common security questions used by a range of websites:

  • Mother's maiden name
  • Name of first pet
  • Name of the first street you lived on
  • Name of the city in which you were born
  • What was the make and model of your first car?
  • What is your maternal grandfather's name?

And once hacked, risks you're vulnerable to include:

  • Identity theft
  • Personal safety
  • Cyber stalking
  • Phishing emails
  • Computer viruses and spyware

Be mindful of what you post - what goes online stays online!

Divulging too many personal details online can make you an easy target for hackers. Protect your identity by keeping your private life private, and minimizing the information you share online.


WhoIsHostingThis Team

About WhoIsHostingThis Team

Our writing team comes from all over the world with diverse backgrounds in the arts and sciences. But what links them is their passion for the internet. All together they represent many decades of experience working in all facets of it -- from programming and hardware creation to website design and marketing.


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January 27, 2017

This is a very interesting topic, since social media are becoming more and more important. In fact, that allows individuals to stay interconnected around the world, and it has become easier for humans to communicate. It is part of the human nature to communicate and interact with each other. The contrast with our human nature is that the dialogue can be misunderstand by others, and that’s why some individuals keep privacy in their information. That’s against the human nature, social media are in fact a easier way for individuals to share with others. Social media have a limit since our “private” information are not so private, since social media have the property of all our post, pictures, and videos. And in my opinion, privacy has to be a right to every individual.