Photo via Ivan David Gomez Arce

Photo via Ivan David Gomez Arce

After a string of online attacks against big-name accounts, the coup de grâce came this week with the cyber attack from potential ISIS collaborators against the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Twitter and YouTube accounts.

One of the menacing tweets read, “We won’t stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children. U.S. soldiers! We’re watching you!”

In addition to these threatening statements, the hackers shared spreadsheets showing the names and locations of soldiers and their families, as well as potentially privileged documents regarding North Korea.

The ISIS attacks are clearly designed to spread terror, but you don’t have to live in fear. There are a few things you can do now to keep you and your family safe from potential online aggressors.


Clean Up Your Online Footprints

No matter where you are online, you are leaving tracks. From your online purchases to your social media consumption, there are a thousand pieces of information you give out to anyone who might be looking.

One of the biggest areas of concern is social media sharing. Not only are outlets like Facebook and Twitter hotbeds for people who are trying to get information about you, but all of your updates are defaulted to be completely searchable by databases like Google and Bing.

Clean up your online footprint by:

  1. Deleting any posts or tweets that mention your children’s names, ages, your home location, or where you work.
  2. Changing your preferences to make your profile unsearchable on general search engines.
  3. Unfriending people who you don’t know in real life.
  4. For Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, ensure that you don’t reveal locating information.
  5. Use a public computer at a library. Your purchase records and online traffic is erased after your session, and the IP address can’t be traced back to your house.



Photo via Jim Pennucci

Photo via Jim Pennucci

Another way in which you may be putting yourself in danger is by using location services on your phone. If you have a smartphone that has a geolocation or geotagging option, your location can be shared with almost anyone who has access to the Internet.

For example, if you take a picture of your child with your smartphone and geotagging is set by default, you may have unknowingly captured the exact coordinates of your location. And, if you upload that image to the internet, there are online services that can extrapolate that data very easily for a small price.

Unmobilize yourself by:

  1. Turning off your geolocation services completely. Not only will you get fewer geotargeted ads, but predators can’t see where you are.
  2. Change your phone settings to only allow location services on a few apps (such as a map app). That way you don’t accidently upload an image with your location.
  3. Leave your phone at home or turn it off. You are much less likely to share your location if you don’t have it with you.


Go Proactive

Finally, one thing that the ISIS attacks have proven is how easy it is to find information (like addresses and childrens’ names) from open online sources. Take a moment and just Google yourself. Do you see all the information (or misinformation) that comes up in the search. Be very specific in your criteria. Can you find where you live? Can you find where you work? Can you figure out what your kids’ names are?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you need to be proactively eliminating the risk that your information poses to your family. Or, you can get a deeper online scrub by hiring a private investigator to do this for you. They have access to a wide range of software that criminals might be using to gather information about you, so they can more effectively eliminate any online information that could put you in danger.

Proactively reduce your online risk by:

  1. Eliminating any references that might be used to excavate more information about you, such as date of birth, company address, or name of your high school.
  2. Use an online avatar instead of a picture.
  3. Delete any images of you that might be used to gather additional information.
  4. Hire a private investigator to thoroughly “scrub” your online presence.



Even though the ISIS attacks targeted a very small group, there are other online predators that could easily gather information and hack into your life. Don’t wait until it’s too late to clean up your online act. Be proactive in eliminating information that could put you in danger. Better yet, hire a private investigation firm like Lauth Investigations International to ensure that your online presence is professional and private.