how much not to disclose about yourself

Lon asked some great questions about online security and how much of his life and his family’s lives should be shared online. This is a great question, and goes beyond personal security but also raises considerations in light of identity theft.

I have 2 main items that I advice not disclosing in the online world of blogs, websites, podcasts, vodcasts, social networks: social security number (SSN) and date of birth. Along the lines of preventing identity theft, don’t publish your mother’s maiden name, your birthplace, driver’s license number, bank account number, or credit card number. And if on your bank account or brokerage account, you use other security questions like your favorite food, favorite vacation spot, or your pet’s name, then don’t blog about those things.

How much of the rest of your personal life is up to your discernment and comfort zone on what to disclose or not. To give you a point of reference, here’s what I’m okay with sharing and not okay with sharing:

  • I shared somewhat freely about my feelings, thoughts, ideas, and personal vulnerabilities. Jen has astutely noticed I’m not as raw as she selectively is, and rightly so. Some of that comes from jobs and how that can convey a representational role for the organizations. So, because of your professional and career life, you do have to mediate how freely you communicate about the unideals, namely, don’t do it. Though in my ideal world, I would be total open book and all out there.
  • I do publish my phone number, which is both my work, cell, and home number. With our recent move, we’ve decided to skip getting a landline and go entirely mobile. Robert Scoble posts his cell phone number too.
  • I do not write about my family’s personal life, both my immediate family (wife and son) and my family of origins. Some of this might be due to Asian culture’s shadow tendency towards non-disclosure.
  • I do publish my travel plans. We have other means so that my family’s safety is not compromised when I’m away from home. I don’t publish my home address.
  • I use a fake birthdate on social networks. So that means I get birthday wishes on the wrong date; and late birthday gifts don’t bother me. You’re welcome to send me gifts anytime 🙂 But, since I don’t publish my mailing address, you’ll have to contact me for it.

Are there cyber-savvy burglars and those who exploit social engineering by using public web sources? Possibly, but not yet well-known. Soon as a cyber-informed heist hits mainstream media, then you’ll likely see less disclosure online than ever.

You may also like...

No Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    Thanks for the tips DJ. Some good stuff there!!!! I got hit with ID theft once and it is a pain. Took me 5-6 months to get through the process!!! There was an article recently in a mag like PC world or something like that, that talked about info stored in public spaces and how it is becoming a serious issue. MySpace just recently got hit where they had to shut down for a few days. Anyways, cool stuff. Thanks for the ideas……

  2. Eugene says:

    dj: thanks for the tips here. they’re all very helpful.