Love it or hate it, social media has revolutionized the way we interact with each other. It has crept into every corner of our lives. It’s not only one of the main ways to communicate with friends and family, but also to learn about news, local events, and even find new jobs.
Hackers love social media too. People tend to reveal too much information about themselves. Think about all the dates of birth, addresses, educational information, and more. Cybercriminals use this data to steal identities. 22% of internet users reported that hackers targeted their social accounts at least once. Another 14% suffered repeated hacker attempts.
You don’t have to abandon Facebook or Instagram to be safe. But you do need to be careful and take security into your own hands. You can start by following these tips to safeguard your privacy and security on social media.
Be Careful When Adding Your Online Friends
Many people enjoy the opportunity to connect with new people on social media. For a long time, many Facebook users even measured social status by the number of friends people had on the platform. But you need to be careful who you add. You never know what a stranger or stalker might learn from your Facebook feed.
To be safe, you should only add people you know. If you want to make new acquaintances, accept other requests only if you have at least a couple of mutual friends. And take the time to review a friend request. Make sure the account is legitimate and not a fake created by cybercriminals.
Secure Your Social Media With Strong Passwords
No matter what you do online, you should use a strong password. When it comes to social media, the stakes are even higher. Unauthorized access to your account means somebody can steal personal information and see your private messages. Plus, cybercriminals may also pose as you to solicit money from your loved ones.
Don’t create passwords from scratch. Use a password generator (for example this one) to create unique and robust combinations of symbols. Skip “password123” and use something like “7^ecGTcn%3VP” instead. Don’t worry; you don’t need to remember such passwords. A password manager can remember them for you.
Avoid Social Logins
Different websites nowadays give the option of using Facebook or Google to login to your account. These are called social logins. And while they are convenient, they are vulnerable to hackers.
Imagine this. A hacker gains access to your social media account. They find all kinds of information about you, including the list of connected accounts. And they can go and login to those accounts. Who knows how much damage they can do?
Be Mindful What You Share
When you create social accounts, you have the opportunity to add a lot of information about yourself. You can say where you’re from and where you live, your date of birth, occupation, and a whole lot more. Keep in mind that most of it go public. Anybody who looks you up can see it right away.
Thus, before posting anything, change your privacy settings. Make sure only friends can see personal information. Also, even friends don’t need to see your email address and phone number. Leave this information for two-step authentication but not for public viewing.
Then, be careful about what you choose to post. Pictures of food are cheesy, but they don’t compromise your privacy that much. But a picture of your brand-new driving license or bill from the doctor might. You never know what information hackers may use to exploit you.
Block Search Engines From Indexing Your Accounts
Nobody should be able to find your social media accounts by searching Google. You don’t need strangers getting an unauthorized look into your private life. Fortunately, you can block this from happening.
Restrict access to your profile to friends only. Then, turn off search engine indexing under Facebook privacy settings. You only need to uncheck the “let other search engines link to your timeline” box for that.
Of course, potential employers or some nosy people may still find your account. But they won’t be able to access anything. Strangers will see your profile photo, though. Thus, change your picture to something you wouldn’t mind them seeing. Keep your fun photos to yourself or create a secure account under a pseudonym.
Separate Your Social Accounts
Your LinkedIn contacts may not be the same as your friends on Facebook. And you likely want to keep it that way. But most social media platforms include profile fields that link to other social accounts. If you want to maintain separation between your accounts, make sure to keep those fields empty.