Spread Holiday Cheer, Not Personal Information

We all want to spread holiday cheer and, this year especially, we are doing it through social media. One holiday post that has been making the rounds again recently is the “elf name generator.” There are multiple variations, but the main idea is the same: to create a silly elf name using things like your name, birth month, or other personal information. Sounds fun, right?

It may be fun to see which elf name suits you best, but when you participate in these challenges you are divulging personal information. It may seem harmless to give out your first initial and birth month, but combine it with other tidbits on your social media and anyone with access and nefarious intent may have enough information to impersonate you. They could use information on your page to guess your password or answer password reset questions and take over your account.

There are ways to participate and have fun while keeping your personal information private. One option is to choose your favorite name rather than one that corresponds to your actual information. If you want to impart cheer and knowledge, share your favorite name while letting people know that these posts can be dangerous.

If you do choose to share your “real” elf name, make sure that you are using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication on your accounts. When setting up password reset questions, don’t use answers that can be found on social media. We recommend using the same completely made-up answer for these questions. What was the make of your first car? Blue skies. What’s the name of your first pet? Blue skies. Where did you meet your spouse? Blue skies. Keep it unrelated to the question so people can’t guess the answer. Keep it the same so you remember it.

A final reminder about social media safety: if you have a public profile and are traveling this holiday season, don’t share it on social media until after you return. When you share your travel plans during or ahead of time, all of your contacts know that your house will be empty, and it could lead to a break in. Stay safe this holiday- in person and online.

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