How to Stay Safe on Social Media
September 30, 2016
How do criminals use social media?
Social media sites are now an integral part of our daily lives—and posting personal information and photos to our profile pages has become fairly commonplace. Yet, more and more often, cybercriminals are using social media to troll for personal information to help them commit identity theft and physical theft such as break-ins while people are away from home. Any of the following info can be used to build a profile on you:
Criminals can study your social media profiles in order to take advantage of you.
Be careful about posting any personal information that could be used against you.
- Email addresses and passwords
- Cell phone numbers
- When you are away on vacation
- Where you go on a regular basis
- Where you work
- Personal information about your children, their names, pets’ names
- Pictures of your children
- Your network of family and friends including names and addresses
Additionally, social media can be home to malware that infects unprotected devices simply by being on the same page as an infected ad or looking at a picture someone posted.
How to stay safe on social media
You should be careful about how much personal information you post on your social media pages. It’s always better to err on the side of safety when posting personal information, especially when posting information about your location, your vacation plans, any personal items that thieves might want, or your children who can become unknowing victims of identity theft. Some more specific tips follow:
Use privacy and security settings – Learn how use your profile’s privacy and security settings in order to keep your personal information, videos and pictures from falling into the wrong hands.
Be wary of what you post – Once you post something it can stay online indefinitely, so think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents, peers or employers to see.
Keep personal information safe – The more personal the information you post the easier it is for thieves to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes both physical, like stalking, or cyber, like tax fraud.
Know your connections – Not all “friends” or business contacts are created equal. Use your social network’s settings to manage the information you share with friends in different groups.
Keep business and personal separate – Keep business and personal social personas separate. Do not share personal information on your business network.
Speak up – If someone posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, ask them to take it down. Likewise, stay open-minded if someone approaches you with a similar request.
Keep security software current – Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats
Monitor your child’s social media activity – Use “parental control” software to monitor what your children post and what websites they visit—both on their phones and other devices. You should also teach your children safe online behavior so they’ll be less likely to fall victim to online predators, identity thieves and scammers.