The Cyber Web We Weave: Why Sharing Contacts Online IS Risky.

4 min read

Imagine This…

You’re at a buzzing family gathering, snapping pictures, and someone asks for a friend’s phone number( especially a lady’s. We love asking for ladies’ numbers at family occasions). Without hesitation, you send it over via WhatsApp. Seems harmless, right? But what if that simple action sets off a chain of cyber mischief that neither you nor your friend saw coming?

What mischief? You ask. Good. You are asking the right questions today and I love it!

Let’s say your cousin asks for your friend Jane’s contact details to invite her to a charity event or even to shoot his shots. Being helpful, you share Jane’s number without a second thought. Jane, unaware of this exchange, continues with her usual activities. A few days later, Jane starts receiving calls from unknown numbers. The caller claims to be from her bank, urgently needing to verify her account information due to suspected fraud.

At first, Jane is cautious and ignores these calls. However, the scammers, equipped with advanced social engineering tactics, make their attempts more convincing by spoofing the bank’s official number. Jane, now convinced of the legitimacy of these calls, provides some of her details, thinking she’s safeguarding her account.

With enough information gathered, the scammers gain access to Jane’s bank account and siphon off her savings. But the mischief doesn’t end there. The cybercriminals sell Jane’s number to other hackers, leading to an avalanche of phishing emails and messages. Jane’s inbox is flooded with fake job offers, investment scams, and urgent requests to click on malicious links.

To make matters worse, the scammers use Jane’s information to create fake profiles on social media and dating sites, further compromising her privacy and reputation. Jane’s digital life becomes a nightmare as she struggles to recover her stolen identity, secure her accounts, and manage the emotional toll of the breach.

And just like that, Jane is a victim of cybercrime. Sad, isn’t it?

But it can get worse! These guys can also decide to use the contact details to craft convincing phishing messages. Imagine your friend receiving a text from their “bank” asking them to verify their account details. One click, and they’re caught in a web of deceit. What’s more, with contact information, hackers can gather more data points to impersonate someone. This can lead to unauthorized access to personal accounts, loans taken out in their name, and a nightmarish struggle to reclaim their identity, and as if that’s not enough the shared contacts can end up in marketing databases, leading to an avalanche of spam calls, messages, and emails. Worse, some might be scams attempting to extract money or personal information.

Take a pause and think about that.

Okay, breaktime’s over. So what does the law say about this whole data thing?

Kenya’s Data Protection Act, 2019, mandates that personal data, including contact information, should not be shared without the explicit consent of the individual. This law aims to protect the privacy and personal data of Kenyan citizens, aligning with global standards of data protection.

Under the Data Protection Act, 2019, the penalties for non-compliance are severe to ensure adherence and respect for personal data privacy. Take a look:

  1. Fines: Organizations or individuals found guilty of breaching data protection laws can face fines of up to KES 5 million (approximately USD 45,000) or up to 1% of their annual turnover, whichever is higher.
  2. Imprisonment: In some cases, individuals responsible for serious breaches could face imprisonment for up to two years.
  3. Compensation: The act also allows for affected individuals to seek compensation for any damage suffered due to the unlawful handling of their data.

So kind sir, how do I share contacts next time?

I am glad you have asked. So, the next time, before sharing your friends’ contacts make sure you:

  1. Ask for Consent: This is very important. Always get explicit permission before sharing someone’s contact information.
  2. Use Secure Channels: Share contacts through secure and encrypted platforms to minimize the risk of interception.
  3. Educate Others: Inform friends and family about the risks and legal implications of sharing contacts without consent.

Guys, we are In a tightly-knit digital community, and connections are precious. Let’s strive to protect each other by being mindful of how we handle personal information.

So, next time you’re about to share a contact, pause, think, and ask for consent. Together, we can weave a safer digital web for all.

Class dismissed.

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours