It comes with territory, so to speak, that social networking opens users up to dangerous security issues. The two sites that are encouraging ‘checking in’ wherever you may be are gowalla.com and foursquare.com.
The first reason that these social networking sites are raising concern is because they encourage users to ‘check in’ which provides your location instantly to those in your group.
The second reason is because they are being used improperly by those who sign up.
The positive and great things that smartphone technology has brought us have created a breeding ground for potential hazards. As with anything, caution is the way to approach these sites.
A social network that encourages you to provide your location is dangerous in that not only do people know where you are, but they also know where you are NOT. Home comes to mind as the most likely place that you are vulnerable. Thieves target houses that they know are unoccupied.
And, just because your social network includes only ‘friends’ does not mean that you cannot be targeted. Social networking sites are not known for their impeccable security methods.
In their defense, site creators issue guidelines on how to use their site and where to use it. It does not include things like telling your social network that you are at home, in bed, or God forbid, in the bathroom. You are encouraged to meet up with those in your social network at public places and entertainment venues, etc. And, they include some already marked out public places.
But, you can add your own, and here’s where the problem of security comes into play. People are adding their homes, rooms in their homes and even (as mentioned) their beds. The more users tell people where they are located, the more they give out information on where they are not or, if they are in a place that makes them vulnerable.
One important guideline when using these is to only check in at public places. Keep your private treks at or from home private.
Also, one last thing to consider is to purchase a GPS Tracking device to help monitor your locations (privately) and add an extra layer of insurance from a security standpoint. These devices are much less expensive than ever, and you can find a model that will meet your needs.
When opening up yourself to potential invasions of security or privacy it is best to take extra precautions to protect yourself because you never know when you might be the target of some very bad people.
article by James Neely