When Lufthansa Tweets Your Whereabouts, Who's At Risk?
At first glance, Lufthansa's new service called MySkyStatus sounds like a very cool and cutting edge social network feed. However upon closer scrutiny, one needs to ask the question: Is a service that automatically posts the current position of your flight a dozen times or more to all your followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook such a good idea? Isn't there a security risk involved?
MySkyStatus's Web site promo pitch states: "While you're in the air, MSS sends altitude, location, departure and arrival updates to your Facebook and Twitter accounts." According to a Mashable report, Pete Cashmore indicates that it "seems the system posts the flight's position around once per hour, pulling from a database of flight information," that appears in tweets like the following:
In one of my previous blogs, titled, "Digital Criminals Preying On Social Networks," I noted that the "Digital Criminal Report" prepared by Legal & General with the help of reformed burglar Michael Fraser provides a startling insight regarding our naivete and who we are communicating with when we engage with social networks. According to Fraser, out of every 100 'friend' or 'follow' requests that we send to complete strangers, 13 are accepted on Facebook and an astounding 92 are accepted on Twitter. This has become an acceptable means of adding to one's database. But why? Don't we check out people we befriend in the real world with a little more scrutiny? So why is our virtual world so different? A good percentage of us (including myself) add followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook with only a limited amount of research or investigation as to who these people really are!
Then when we tweet or provide a status update about traveling for business or pleasure, we are actually leaving our homes at risk. With tools such as Google Earth and Street View, and profile information that lists our addresses, our homes become sitting targets for thieves that are sitting in wait on Twitter and Facebook to learn about our whereabouts.
Now... does MySkyStatus sound like such a great idea? While flying the friendly skies, you have just left your self wide open for some potentially very unfriendly visitors!
So my suggestion to those that like the idea of an automated feed detailing your lattitude and longitude coordinates, I would suggest you review and modify the personal data on all your social networks before you sign up for Lufthansa's MySkyStatus service, and consider omitting your address info all together.
Or on the flipside, you might want to rethink who you add as followers and friends, and personally have these folks vetted. By doing one or the other, or both, I think you will fly with a greater peace of mind, knowing that what you have left behind will still be there when you return.