It’s no secret that social media has taken the world by storm. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are now household names that are used every day by billions of people across the globe for everything from entertainment to business networking to finding funny cat videos.
Unfortunately, social media sites aren’t always used for good. They can actually pose real-life risks to unsuspecting users, including identity theft; online predators; stalking and harassment; and cyber threats like viruses and malware. They can be an even bigger threat for teens and children, who are often victims of bullying and even child trafficking on social media sites.
The good news is, a few simple tips can help you enjoy social media while staying safe and secure. Read on to find out how.
Don’t post personal information.
Social media is designed for sharing intimate details about your life, but over-sharing personal information can put you at risk of cyber crime, identity theft, stalking, and other criminal activities. You should avoid sharing details like your location, travel plans, daily routines, or other information that could make you vulnerable. As always, you should never post or share your credit card numbers, banking information, address, cell phone number, or other personal information that could be used by hackers.
Strengthen your privacy settings.
The default privacy settings for most social media platforms are very broad, but they can be customized to control who can access your page and posts. Privacy settings can also allow you to block certain users, hide personal account information from the public, and more.
Use strong passwords.
Strong password security is a must for any online account, but it’s especially important for social media. Hackers that guess your password can access your account and post things under your name or use it to spread spam and malware. Passwords should never reflect personal information like your name or birthday, should be a minimum of eight characters, and have a strong blend of letters and numbers.
Consider a small social circle.
It can be fun to gain new friends and followers, and many users mistakenly believe that online connections are relatively harmless. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Accepting friend requests from strangers on social media sites can put you and your network at risk of real-life crime. To stay safe, only accept requests from users you know personally and don’t hesitate to block accounts that seem suspicious. Speaking of suspicious…
Be aware of false accounts.
Most social media platforms don’t verify the identity of new account holders, making it fast and easy for users to set up false accounts that can be used to spread harmful content. Some key things to watch out for include new requests from users you are already friends with as well as pages that have few (if any) friends or recent history. When in doubt, reach out to friends using alternative methods to verify their request.
Know how to handle unwanted users.
Never take threats, harassment, or unwanted attention lightly. If a user is making you uncomfortable, remove them from your friends list and block them in your privacy settings to prevent them from accessing your page. If necessary, report users to the site administrator or call the police if you fear your safety is at risk.
Maintain your security software.
Maintaining the latest versions of your security software, web browser, and operating system is one of the best protections you have against online threats. Install all new software updates as soon as possible and follow your software’s instructions to keep it current and up-to-date.
Once posted, always posted.
Don’t put too much stock in that delete button – social media posts are permanent. You may remove it from your page or newsfeed, but resourceful users can always find ways to reveal things that could hurt your reputation. A good rule of thumb is to never post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want your grandmother, your pastor, or your future employer to see.
Of course, social media isn’t the only place that poses a risk to online users. If you need help setting up or strengthening your online or network security, Business Information Solutions (BIS) is here to help. Contact our expert cybersecurity professionals today to learn how!
Download Our Social Media Policy Template
Phillip Long – CISSP, CEO of BIS Technology Group, along with his team of marketing and information technology experts, will walk you through an overview of what your business should be doing to protect your data and plan your digital marketing strategies.