How Your Social Media Post Could Put Your Cargo at Risk
According to the 2016 Social Media Update from the Pew Research Center, 68% of all adults in the United States use Facebook. With so many people using social media, you'd think everyone would understand how to protect their personal and professional information online. But you'd be wrong. For years, lax security settings and practices have lead to social media profiles - and even entire sites - being hacked and personal information being compromised. But now, thieves are not only after your identity - they want your goods too! Social media and mobile technologies could become thieves' go-to tool for identifying potential cargo theft targets.
Here are some tips for protecting yourself, and your cargo, during your next trip:
1. Only accept social media requests from people you know.
This seems pretty obvious, yet thousands of people accept friend and connection requests from complete strangers every day. Often, we are lulled into a sense of complacency when we see that a friend or co-worker is connected to someone. After all, if your boss knows this person, they must be okay, right? Maybe - but, maybe not. Behind that profile picture could be someone looking for details on what you do for a living, who you are employed by, and where you are traveling. A good rule of thumb - don't accept a social media request from anyone you haven't spoken to in person.
2. Don't post details about your load or your travel plans.
Again, something that seems clear-cut that gets easily overlooked when you are trying to keep family and friends updated. While you probably wouldn't post "Today I carried a truckload of the latest tech gadget to a distribution center in Timbuktu," you might post a beautiful sunset photo which shows your current location when you upload it to social media. And if your profile lists your employer is XYZ Company and you are a dedicated driver for a major electronics account, it wouldn't be difficult for thieves to estimate your location and assume your cargo is pretty pricey.
3. Turn off location services for apps.
Nearly all mobile apps, including social media apps, will use location services - either as part of the app's function, or just to market products and services based on your location. If you are a driver or carrier, you may use certain mobile apps in connection with your job. Unless you are required by your employer to use location services for specific apps, turn off the locations services for the apps you are not using – especially while you are driving. Not only will this keep the apps, and would-be thieves, from tracking your approximate location, but completely closing any apps you are not using will save data on your wireless phone plan and battery life for your device.
4. Fine-tune your account settings.
Most social media accounts are set by default to have very open account and security settings. However, customizing these settings should be one of the first things you do when you create your account. Settings can be adjusted to every aspect of social media interaction, from general profile information to who can see your posts and what posts you see and receive alerts for. Adjusting account and security settings can help prevent unauthorized persons from viewing information you may not want to be publicly visible.
5. Have a social media policy in place.
If you are an employer, put a social media policy in place and distribute it to your employees. Doing so sets an expectation that your employees will use social media in a responsible manner and will not jeopardize the freight your company has been contracted to haul. If you are an employee of a carrier company, ensure your use of social media is in compliance with your company's policies. Having social media policies in place and properly communicating them can help protect carriers from cargo theft.Unfortunately, there's no fool-proof way to prevent all cargo theft. Thieves will always be looking for a way to use information to their advantage - so make sure yours is protected as much as possible. Utilize some common sense strategies to manage your social media accounts and ensure the next hijacked load isn't yours.