Staying Safe on Social Networks

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We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
(Mother Night; Kurt Vonnegut; Fawcett; 1961)

It’s even easier to be sociable on social media with mobile devices, and more and more information is shared with growing numbers of people. Many wonderful things can happen as a result of this world-wide communication, though like everywhere in life there are those who abuse technological advances.

Sharing information has become so simple and convenient, and it’s so easy to forget that with a small number of clicks, a person could potentially share enough information for an identity theft. And just because every fact you share may be true, there are many out there who have good reason to hide their own true identities and intentions. Here are some guidelines for being sociable while staying safe:

  1. Manage privacy settings: ensure that you’re only sharing information with friends and family. Check this regularly to make sure the settings haven’t changed;
  2. Understand automatic linking: a ‘photo posted on Facebook may be linked to a Twitter account automatically, depending on configurations;
  3. Personal information: be suspicious of anyone asking for personal information that could identify you. Never share address, ‘phone number, place of work, etc.
  4. Change passwords regularly. Use a combination of at least eight letters and character and pick random though easily remembered phrases – e.g the big blue moon written as Th3B1gBlu3M00n is many times stronger. Never use the same password for another account.
  5. Close old accounts. Data in unused accounts will be on the ‘net forever – unless you close these.
  6. Disable GPS. Turn this off if you plan to share smartphone camera pictures online your location will be revealed.
  7. Assume that everything posted is forever. Even deleting an old account cannot guarantee that someone hasn’t copied your pictures and posts before it was wiped; remember this when uploading.
  8. Disable Auto-login. Make sure this is disabled on all apps to prevent automatic access physically, for instance is a ‘phone is lost or stolen.
  9. Be selective when accepting a friend. Remember the quote above. If someone is genuine, they will respect your caution. To be safer, only ‘friend’ people you know in real life.
  10. Look out for bad links. This is one of hackers’ favorite ways to infect a device. Be suspicious of ‘great deals’ – they are often not what they seem. Also, be careful to check domain names carefully when downloading an app – hackers copy legit ‘sites like Google to trick users, and such ‘sites will have an altered extension (like google.abc instead of .com).

Remember: Be Sociable Safely!

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Daniel Stoyanov
Daniel Stoyanov has a Master's degree in Computer Science from the Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria. He is also a Microsoft Certified Professional. Daniel provides top cyber security news with in-depth coverage of malware, vulnerabilities, PC and Network security, online safety.If you have any questions feel free to ask him right now.

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