Security of Social Media
According to the Pew Research Center, as of June 2019, 72% of Americans use some type of social media. That’s increased by 67% since 2011. Kind of scary? From a security standpoint maybe…
Don’t get me wrong - social media is great! Having a platform to connect with others is so essential to our lives now. Staying in touch with the people you care about is easier than ever. How easy is it to send a picture of your kids to your parents who live over 2,000 miles away? How sweet it is to be able to video chat and not only hear their voice, but also see the face of someone you love who is far away? Not only on a personal level, but now you can even seek out new career opportunities on social media, whether you are a big name influencer or just manage the social media accounts for a small company.
But here’s the thing - social media has a lot, and I mean A LOT of personal information shared on a daily basis. So how secure can social media actually be? Today we are going to discuss the different venues where your security could be compromised and share some tips on how to use social media more safely.
Security and Privacy Concerns with Social Media
Impersonation. I can speak on a personal level for this one, be careful who you accept. I wish I could teach this concept to my grandparents who are in their 90s and only use Facebook for social media… The amount of scams and fake accounts claiming to be my grandparents at times is unreal.
These hackers use forms of impersonation to spread scams trying to steal your sensitive information or to download malware onto your devices. The same goes for those messages you receive that seem odd from people who wouldn’t normally message you. The best advice? Don’t accept anyone you’re already friends with or open messages with links that seem suspicious.
Next up is harassment. Whether this is someone you don’t personally know, or someone who you do know, be careful of who you respond to. If someone is begging you for information that they don’t need to know, take action to block their accounts. This is where secure password practices can come into play for your social media accounts. If someone can guess your password and get access into your social network, who knows what information they might steal or even things they might post, or who they might message, pretending to be you.
Not only can harassment hurt your online reputation, but it can also turn physical. How might you ask? Just think of Snapchat for example… ever heard of Snap Map? This tool allows you to see all your friends' current locations, and they’re pretty accurate with the last time they’ve been seen. How fun to be able to check in using this feature… until someone turns it against you. What can you do to prevent this? Never share your geolocation with applications.
Falling under the umbrella of harassment includes cyberbullying. We all know it’s a lot easier to say things that might hurt people over a screen rather than in person. Obviously, if you’re being cyberbullied all you have to do is block them, but make sure if you have teenagers using social media they know to do this too. Especially younger ages using social media can have a severe impact on their mental health. Be sure to talk with your child about social media practices of what they’re posting, sharing, and let them know it’s okay to block these bullies. On most social media platforms you can make sure that your sharing settings are set to what you want them to be. Changing these settings from public, to friends of friends, to friends only. All these options can be used for different cases, but making sure that only people you want to share with are seeing your content is a step in the right direction.
We all follow some sort of business social media page. It’s fun to interact and share with the brands you love. But doesn’t it get a little creepy when you think of a product and then see a Facebook advertisement for it that same day? Using private browsing windows when you’re in the market to buy a product will help reduce the amount of advertising for similar products.
7 Tips to Strengthen Your Social Media Security Game
1. Use unique passwords for each of your accounts.
Creating a unique password for each of your accounts gives you an edge against hackers trying to get your private information.
2. Never login to social media accounts on public devices.
I know it’s really tempting to use that hotel computer when your work laptop dies at the last second but come on, really? Make sure to log out and NEVER select remember this computer.
3. Make sure geolocation services are turned off.
To take an extra step for your physical security, make sure that your geolocation services through social media applications are turned off.
4. Always enable multi factor authentication whenever possible.
We know that you are already on your a-game for setting up secure passwords, but it won’t hurt to add another step in there to prevent hackers. Enable multi factor authentication for social media whenever possible.
5. Never click on links, instead open sites in a new tab.
Be careful on what links you click on that friends might be sharing, you never know if they have been hacked. Instead of clicking on links open a new browser tab and type in the site they are trying to take you to, or verify with your friend in another form of communication that the link they sent is legitimate.
6. Make sure you change your privacy and security settings.
Do you actually know what your privacy settings are and who is able to see private information about you? Go into all the privacy and security settings in your social media applications to make sure you’re not revealing too much to the online world.
7. Be careful what you are sharing online.
What you post online never goes away. Your online reputation and personal information can be used against you by hackers, employers, and more. Carefully selecting what information and content you feel comfortable sharing can help in the long run.
All of this being said, social media isn’t a bad, scary thing. It’s a unique form of communication we have to be able to create strong connections with people who live down the street or halfway across the world. Being diligent in your social media practices by using the provided tips will help make your profiles more secure. Since we’re on the subject, be sure to follow Wildcard on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up to date with more blogs like this. Happy posting!