Special Report: The Dangers of Social Media - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Special Report: The Dangers of Social Media

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) -

It's 2017 and technology is more advanced than ever. We're living in an era that is by far the most intriguing to people who are tech savvy.

As great as the internet can be, cyber security is one of the most talked about issues today.

"What has really changed is how dependent we are on technology," said Paul Wolfe, an IT consultant with National Networks in Lake Charles. "We've become very dependent on this. Business can't run without it. Our social lives are handled all in the cloud these days."

The cloud.. No, not that cloud - the Internet-based computing system.

Wolfe explains: "All it really means is a server or a computer that doesn't reside where you reside, so when you talk about backing up my data to the cloud, all it means is that data has moved from your facility to a remote location."

While this may seem harmless, dangers lurk beyond the cloud, and they may be surrounding you right now.

"The average person is going to use the same password for every single service that they use," said Wolfe. "All it takes is one of those services being compromised and now your entire digital persona is now available."

This can open you up to crooks trying to steal your information, and we haven't even talked about social media yet.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso sees crimes like these every single day.

"A lot of us put all of our information out there on social media. We're going on vacation. We're showing that we're having a great time, which is great," Mancuso says. "A good criminal that knows what is going on that is watching and paying attention knows you're going to be gone for a week."

With an app like Snapchat making what they call, "Snap Map", everything is out there for the taking.

No matter where you are or what you're doing like listening to music, the world knows what you and your bitmoji are doing.

I reached out to Snapchat for comment. A spokesperson said, "The safety of our community is very important to us and we want to make sure that all Snapchatters, Parents, Educators have accurate information about how the Snap Map works. With Snap Map, location sharing is off by default for all users and is completely optional. Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time. It's also not possible to share your location with someone who isn't already your friend on Snapchat, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends."

"Location tracking on apps is designed to make the user experience more useful and personalize, but the technology can be highjacked," says Erica McCreedy, a social media expert who is skeptical of apps like Snapchat that use location settings so prominently.

"Stalkers aren't always in the bushes outside anymore. They're online."

"You may be a consenting adult and send an inappropriate picture to your significant other and the next thing you know, it's all over the place," said Sheriff Mancuso.

At college campuses, social media is king. This is no different at McNeese State where students told me what they see on their phones every day.

"It's really fun to mess with some friends to fool around whenever they were with someone or if they're on the road and stuff, but I delete it afterwards," said Chris Graf, a Graduate student at McNeese. "Ghost mode, it's all gone. It's so creepy."

"People post every move they make," said Le'Anne Hargroder, a senior nursing student. 

She is aware of the danger it poses for female students.

"It's really dangerous, especially for girls. You know, young girls, college. People can literally follow you to any location that you're in."

Social media remains one of the more dynamic forms of technology... if it's used properly.

For ways on how you can protect your technology from being hacked, click here.

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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