If you use social media platforms, you more than likely login on a daily basis. Whether you’re using Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, there are certain risks in which you should be aware of. As popularity grows, so do potential scams and hacking issues. To stay safe while connecting to your social network, here are 10 tips to be aware of.
- Be cautious of links
There will be many links and pop-ups in which you’re faced with on social networking sites. Perhaps you received a message from a friend regarding a contest or free product. Although it seems abnormal – you click on the link. Without knowing it, you could be exposing yourself to viruses, malware, and other problematic cases of fraud.
- Be aware of visible information
When hackers break into accounts, especially financial accounts, they often select ‘forget your password?’ With your email address and access to your social media, they could actually find out what your password is and then use it to break in. Security questions such as what’s your birthday or home town, may be found on your social media profiles. Be conscious of the type of information you post and if possible, make your own security questions on high-risk sites.
- If you do not want someone to see something – don’t post it
If there is something that you wouldn’t want your parents, boss, or co-workers to see, don’t post it – it’s as simple as that. Any photo, email, or message is retrievable and with sharing options, an inappropriate photo could be passed around. Far too many people are sending racy photographs to people they barely know – which automatically puts them at-risk.
- Actively manage your privacy settings
Check and strengthen your privacy settings on a regular basis. On Facebook, for instance, you can choose who sees your posts, who can search for you, and more. The best way to limit what others see is to make specific friend groups. Also, do not send friend requests to strangers or accept any requests from people you do not know.
- Get rid of old accounts
As social networking evolves, more and more accounts are opened. From MySpace to Instagram, Facebook to Twitter – are you active on every platform? If not, close the accounts you no longer use. In order to gain control of your online network, you need to actively update your settings and be conscious of what is shared. Whatever accounts are no longer active, it’s best to deactivate them.
- Don’t disclose your location
With options to check-in, many enjoy sharing their adventures with the online world. Unfortunately, the wrong people may get hold of that information. Whether you have had issues with an ex or an unknown hacker is looking to scam you, your address or current location can provide far too many clues. The same is true if you’re going on vacation – there have been instances of people displaying the dates that they’re gone, only to find that they’ve been robbed upon their return.
- If you’re under 13 – you should not be using social networks
Whether you are under the age of 13 or are a concerned parent, children should not be using social media. They lack the experience and judgment required to make responsible decisions. Without knowing it, they could be putting themselves in serious danger.
- Keep your browser up-to-date
Most operating systems offer automatic update options – always install and update required software. The same is true with any anti-virus software. Also, evaluate your current settings – both your browser’s settings and privacy settings on social media accounts.
- Avoid random surveys and quizzes
Social media will expose you to many games, quizzes, and surveys. These are often from various advertisers looking to use your information. Be especially cautious of applications you need to download to your computer. Whenever you play a game or take an online quiz, make sure you read the fine print before you accept anything.
- Understand terms and conditions
Regardless of the site you are using, make sure that you have read and fully understand the terms and conditions. Does the site monitor your posts and information? What do they do with that information?
Mitchell, A. (2008). 12 tips for safe social networking. NetworkWorld. Retrieved on January 23rd, 2016, from http://www.networkworld.com/article/2346606/microsoft-subnet/12-tips-for-safe-social-networking.html
Ulanoff, L. (2011). 10 Tips for Safe Social Networking. PCMag. Retrieved on January 23rd, 2016, from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387174,00.asp
US-Cert, (2015). Security Tips. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved on January 23rd, 2016, from https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST06-003