Social media has become an inevitable part of our lives. Networks such as Facebook and Instagram have billions of users, many of whom share personal information. This leaves hackers, burglars and identity thieves with limitless opportunities to cause harm.
During summer season, many people are taking time off, traveling and posting digital updates more than usual, making it more important than ever to pay attention to online security and privacy.
Here are some practical tips on how to stay safer and more secure on social media while enjoying the summer fun.
Pay Attention to Privacy Settings
Each social media platform has privacy settings that you can customize to your comfort level.
On most platforms you decide who can view your posts, friend lists and the pages you follow or like. You can also limit friend requests and prevent people from seeing your email address and other personal information. To get the most out of these privacy features, we recommend reviewing your settings regularly.
Don’t Reveal Everything
Have you ever posted a photo of your home or shared your address on social media? How many times have you told the internet that you are out of town or abroad? As benign as it may seem, such practices could put you in harm’s way.
A lot of burglars scout social profiles to find out whether someone is home. If thieves know you are away, it allows them more time to break in and steal. Save the vacation pictures and updates for when you return!
Choose Friends Carefully
An average social media user is glad to see new friend requests. After all, you want to feel acknowledged and appreciated by your peers. But popularity isn’t everything. A best practice is to only accept friend requests from people you know or have met in real life.
Criminals are known to create fake accounts and befriend thousands of users in order to gain access to their personal information. If a name doesn’t ring a bell, check out the profile to learn more details. If it seems strange or you don’t know them, we strongly suggest you reject their request to be friends.
Links May Lead to Malware
When in doubt, throw it out: Links in emails, social media posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete or ignore it.
We saved the best for last. Most hackers use gigantic databases to break passwords; a weak password will increase the odds of your account being accessed. A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!
Millions of people post personal information online without even realizing it, allowing burglars and digital thieves to exploit their private data. If you want to avoid this problem and use social networks safely, keep these five tips in mind.