It doesn’t seem to matter whether an online quiz attempts to identify what animal I’d be, or whether I’m a “Game of Thrones” or “Downton Abbey” character — I always feel tempted to find out. But could these fun, seemingly harmless personality quizzes be bypassing my social media privacy efforts and putting me at risk of identity theft?
As it turns out, that might be the case.
Hackers have been outsmarting Facebook privacy controls by using quizzes to highjack accounts. Once they break down that social media privacy wall, attackers can use personal information for identity theft attempts. For example, finding out the names of pets, kids, favorite sports teams and high schools may allow them to answer security validation questions on banking and financial sites.
The bad news is that it’s users who are giving these hackers access.
Quiz: Are You Allowing Access?
Whenever a quiz pops up, most likely on Facebook, a user typically has to grant account access in order to answer the questions. Often, people will see that their friends have taken a quiz and that they’ll have the opportunity to compare their answers. This is a tempting lure, because people have a tendency to be more trusting of messages that come from friends or family.
But the loss of Facebook privacy, even for a moment, can allow hackers into your account. In addition to perusing your information, they can disguise malicious links and pop-ups that can result in viruses being loaded onto your system. After that, you could get hit with ransomware or become the victim of a highly targeted phishing attack.
Always Answer Wisely
Making sure that social media privacy controls stay in place is as easy as skipping those quizzes, games and app downloads that seem to be part of every Facebook feed.
Fortunately, you don’t have to avoid online quizzes completely. There are reputable sites that feature quizzes you can take without putting yourself in danger. For example, The New York Times has an online news quiz every week that lets you test your knowledge. If you’re looking for fluff, BuzzFeed quizzes range from figuring out which Harry Potter house you’d live in to determining whether you’re Ross or Rachel from “Friends.”
When considering how to fill your next work break, choose quizzes with these features:
- The quiz is accessible through a website — not through your Facebook or Twitter account.
- You don’t need to input any information about yourself to begin taking the quiz.
- You don’t need to download anything to give your answers.
- Results are provided instantly and don’t require revealing your email address or other information.
So, we don’t have an answer when it comes to whether you’re a frog or an elephant. But one thing is certain: Enhancing your social media privacy and being selective with the quizzes you take can help protect you from identity theft, no matter what kind of animal you are.