Youth Outreach Fuels New Thoughts on Securing Social Identity

Safe Online Sharing

With the pervasive presence and engaging nature of social media, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if your organization has implemented social media as part of its strategy. There are endless capabilities to connect, but so are the privacy concerns. The risks are especially high among those most adept with liking, tweeting and tagging — teenagers.With 81% of teens using at least one form of social media, EZShield recognized an educational need in our local youth community.

On July 30, EZShield partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County to present “Protecting Your Social Identity.” We knew the club’s youth leaders would get an eye-opening lesson in social media security, but didn’t anticipate how much insight on the importance of education EZShield would get in return.

The audience of 13 to 16-year-olds was ideal due to their high propensity to use social networks. It was also an excellent opportunity to influence these teens before they reach the peak age of identity theft — 18 to 24.

Highlighting how hacking, malware, phishing or simply over-sharing could compromise personal information, stressed the importance of privacy-settings and site-specific concerns.

Actively engaging the group in question and answer encouraged valuable interaction. Some youth leaders admitted to sharing too much information online, which was especially clear for one attendee who acknowledging using 12 different social accounts.

Most of the youth leaders exemplified their social smarts indicating that their account was private and they did not interact with strangers. However, there were poignant moments in the conversation where they realized they were still at risk.

Over half indicated that they share their locations online, especially when they travel. This allows others to track them and may alert fraudsters to an empty home. EZShield’s outreach volunteers also asked, “Why is posting your full birthdate and place of birth a bad idea?” After a few wrong answers, one attendee explained that they are linked to your Social Security number. This shocked many and sparked interest among the group.

Attendees also got a hands-on lesson in password security as they entered their credentials into an online password strength-rating tool. After the first participant confidently entered her password, youth leaders were shocked to learn it would only take 0.0001 seconds to break. In sharp contrast, another attendee’s password was so strong that it would take 2,546,476,408,336 years to hack. One attendee voiced a primary take away: “Passwords are easier to crack than you think.”

At the end of the event, the youth leaders took EZShield’s Safe Online Sharing pledge to agree to address two privacy concerns and share what they learned with others. Many eagerly wrote down siblings or best friends as someone they would share their newfound knowledge with.

In addition to educating participants, EZShield left with a few key takeaways:

Consumers are more connected than ever:
All but one of our participants had social media accounts and one had as many as twelve accounts. Do you know how socially connected your customers are? How effectively are you reaching them?

Education is contagious:
The youth leaders found an added peace of mind from this experience and were excited to share with others. Making the presentation engaging was a key factor in encouraging them to pass on what they learned. Could your customers benefit from similar engagement? How could they share what they know?

Passwords are only as strong as you make them:
Maybe it’s time to adjust your customers’ password requirements.

Customers want to protect themselves, but don’t know what constitutes PII:
Although some attendees had previously updated their privacy settings, many were not familiar with what comprises PII. It may seem harmless causing the average user to leave such information exposed (i.e. birthdate and birth place). This knowledge prompted most youth leaders to want to make security changes to their online accounts. Teaching your customers what information to keep secure can prevent a disaster down the road.

Overall, the “Protecting your Social Identity” event was an eye-opening experience for everyone. EZShield is proud to contribute our time and expertise to the Boys and Girls Club.

Looking for educational tools to share with your customers? Visit www.fightingidentitycrimes.com and be sure to “Like” Fraud Protection Powered by EZShield on Facebook for the latest updates and tips regarding personal information security.

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