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How to Protect Yourself on Social Media

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How to Protect Yourself on Social Media

Social media touches nearly every part of our lives these days. It's hard to go anywhere without social media appearing in one way or another, often through social media apps on our phones. When we post photos of ourselves or share our thoughts and opinions with the world, we're opening up a window into who we are, what makes us tick and what matters most to us. We may not think that social media privacy is that big of a deal until it becomes an issue for us personally - but once you have your privacy compromised on social media it can be difficult to regain control over your own life again. In this article, we're going to talk about how you can protect yourself from social-media privacy breaches so they don't happen to you.

Secure all social media privacy settings.

Every social media site offers an array of different settings to control how much, and to who, you want to share your personal information. If you haven't taken the time to look into these settings, you'll probably find they're a little more revealing than you'd like. When using default settings, your posts and pictures may be visible to more than just your friends list, even personal contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses may be readily available. Unless a page is used for promotions or a business, you should make sure your information is visible only to family and friends. Take the time to go through your privacy settings on every social media account you have, and read the FAQ and Help sections of those pages to determine what options you have, and how to change those settings.

Utilize every security feature for each website or app.

Online criminals are always looking for compromised login credentials they can use to gain access to social media accounts. If they can uncover sensitive material from private chats they can blackmail their victim, or utilize the stolen account to try and scam money out of unsuspecting friends by posing as the original user. Every website has different options, but some useful ways to beef up security on your accounts include:

  • Two Factor Authentication (2FA) - Two Factor Authentication is a process where, in addition to your regular password, you are also asked for a one-time code that is generated by an app on your phone, or sent to you as a text message. This code changes frequently and is only valid for a short period of time.

  • Security Questions - This method will be familiar to most people, questions that can be prompted to verify your identity when you forget your password. Its always best to choose more complicated information that can't be gleaned from public record, a criminal would be able to easily find information like your mother's maiden name online.

  • Password Management - This is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself. Passwords should be changed regularly, and never used twice for the same website or app. You should always use a strong and unique password, and consider using a password manager for further protection.

Avoid sharing too much personal information online.

Sharing personal information such as your address, phone number, or your date of birth opens you up to potential identity theft or even stalking. Even if the person asking is a friend, there is a risk that the person on the other end may not be who you think it is. Often when a social media account is compromised the criminal who has gained access to it will contact their friends, posing as the original user, and try to glean information such as banking details or social security numbers from unsuspecting victims. If a contact starts asking for personal information, or even money, it’s always best to play it safe.

Watch out for stranger danger.

The internet is crawling with cyber criminals, and they most often utilize social media to find their victims. Some of the most common and damaging scams we see start with a seemingly innocent direct message. You should never trust anyone you meet online. If you're contacted via social media for investment opportunities, government grants, or even romantic and sexual interest the safest option is to not engage. If you do choose to respond to strangers, do not reveal personal information, including giving out your phone number or email, and definitely do not send any money or gift cards.

Be mindful of what you post or share.

Posting inflammatory or sensitive content may not have consequences depending on your audience, but it's hard to gauge who might take offense and potentially share that information to others online. Internet vigilantes are quick to screenshot sensitive material that can be shared publicly or even with employers. Since the rise of social media, many employees have been terminated for their online activity. Precaution should also be taken when sharing other's posts, or mentioning things about others on your own platform. Social media users should be mindful that what you share online may not be factual, and you could be found liable for defamation.

If you take the proper precautions, social media can be an enriching and entertaining part of your life. If you have concerns about your online security, suspecting a scam, or experiencing online harassment call us today for a free consultation.

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