9 Essential Tips for Social Media Security and Privacy

9 Essential Tips for Social Media Security and Privacy

Given that our social accounts store plenty of our personal information, social media security is crucial for a safe online experience.

These days, we all use various social media accounts to keep in touch with our peers and with what's going on in the world. Social media has become a great deal in our lives.

But, as great as social media can be for keeping us connected, it can also become a threat to your online safety if you're not taking any social media security precaution measures.

Even if you use social media as an individual or you own a small business and take advantage of social media to market your products online, your social media accounts hold private information that can be easily misused if they fall into the wrong hands.

So let's see which are the best social media security tips to keep you protected against social media security threats so you can safely share your experiences online with your friends.


1. Secure your accounts with strong passwords

The first step into properly taking care of social media security is to make sure no one can hack into your accounts and steal your private information.

To do so, only use passwords that are complex enough so it's impossible for someone to guess and hard for tools to crack.

Here are the most important guidelines for securing your social accounts with strong passwords:

  • Don't use the same password for all social media accounts - If a hacker or cybercriminal manages to break the password of one of your social media accounts and you use the same password overall, well, you'll end up by being locked out of all your online accounts.
  • Use long passwords - Your password should contain at least 10 characters. The longer the password, the better. One great tip here is to use sentences instead of single words.
  • Make them complex - Don't stay away from mixing up upper case and lower case letters along with special characters. This will make your passwords more secure and harder to hack.
  • Do NOT use personal information - By all means, never use personal information in your passwords (birth dates, pets' names, close ones' names). This kind of information is most likely extremely easy to be found on your social media accounts.

To learn more about how to come up with strong passwords and how to manage and remember various complex passwords without hassle, take a look over our guide.


2. Use multi-factor authentication

Using a strong password for your social media accounts is not always enough to keep yourself protected against cyber attacks. There are ways hackers can get into your accounts without them needing to find out your password.

To add an extra layer of social media security to your accounts, enable the multi-factor authentication (MFA). You can find this feature on most social media platforms (and other platforms, including email clients for that matter).

You can choose to receive an email, SMS, or pop up on your phone to confirm you're the one trying to log to the account. So, even if someone manages to crack your password, he won't be able to actually access your account if you don't confirm your identity.

This is a highly useful feature for social media security that can save you from really unpleasant situations. So you should go enable it now if you haven't already.


3. Be aware of the personal information you share

There are various ways in which hackers hack into people's private information and online activities to use the data for their own gain. One of these hacking techniques is called social engineering.

Social engineering refers to a cybercriminal collecting private information on his victims that he can further use to commit fraud, identity theft, or other online scams. While for this approach fake emails are often used to trick people into giving sensitive information, social media accounts can also be a valuable source of private data for someone looking to break into your accounts.

Someone can collect lots of information about you only by skimming through your social media accounts. Things such as your date of birth, interests, family, your pets' names, your first school. Now, think that a huge amount of online services use this information as security questions.

If the answers to these questions are right there on your profile, isn't this a social media security risk? You bet.

I know that you might want to share all and everything with your online friends, but to keep your social media security to a high level, you sometimes must be smart and cautious with the personal information you share.


4. Keep your social media accounts private

If all the information on your social media accounts is public, then anyone that might want to hack into your accounts can gather every bit of information about you and use it against you.

Not only that oversharing sensitive data online with everybody gives hackers the necessary information to crack your accounts, but it also enhances the chances for you to fall victim to identity theft.

For improved social media security and privacy, you should go review all your profiles and make sure your private information is actually set up to be private. Especially information such as your birthday, location, biography.

Social media privacy settings give you the possibility of controlling who gets to see what. You should definitely take advantage of these setups to raise your social media security level.

Be mindful that even if you choose to share posts only with your friends, it's not impossible for someone mal-intended to be able to see the posts. The posts you share only with your friends might also appear to friends of your friends and so on. You can never trust that what you share on social media platforms is completely private.


5. Clean up your friends' list

Being aware of who you befriend on the online world is an important aspect of enhanced social media security and online security in general.

Hackers and cybercriminals often use fake accounts so they can spy on people and steal private information.

If the information of your social media accounts is private and someone wants to get access to it, it only takes a couple of minutes for them to set up a fake social media account and send you a friend request. While some fake accounts are easy to spot because they lack a profile picture or you can see there's no activity on the profile, smarter attackers will go to greater lengths to hide their act. They'll set up the profile by using someone else's photos, share a couple of posts, befriend some people, so the profile looks genuine and doesn't raise any concerns at a quick look.

To keep yourself safe against hackers impersonating someone else, it's best not to accept friend requests coming from people that you don't know. After all, why would you want your friend's list populated with strangers?

If you really want to accept requests from strangers as a way of making new friends, at least first take a close look over the profile to see if there's anything strange about it. Is the profile freshly new? Did they post anything at all? Can you see that they've interacted with other people on the platform (e.g. being tagged by friends in their posts)?

Make sure the people you are creating a connection with, be it accepting a friend request on Facebook or a connection on LinkedIn, are not intended to harm you.

Hacking social media accounts is more about social engineering and less about sophisticated tools and techniques. So there's no wonder social media platforms are full of malicious links intended to harm users.

Most often, criminals will send you malicious links through messages trying to make them seem as they are genuine. The goal is to get you to a website where you'll be required to provide personal information, such as your social media accounts credentials. This social engineering technique is also known as phishing.

Another type of malicious links you can come across on social media are those that will install malware on your device. If your account gets infected, these malicious links will be sent automatically to your entire friends' list via messages.


7. Don't forget to log out

Sometimes it happens that you are at work, school, or at a friend's house and you want to check what's new on Facebook or what stories have been posted on Instagram so you log in to your social media accounts from someone else's device.

If when you're done with the session you only close the browser or the tab, the owner of the device might be able to log in to your accounts later on without your knowledge.

This behavior is a high social media security risk especially when you log in from public places. You have no idea who will later use the devices. And it's needless to say that not all people will log you out once they see you forgot to do it yourself.

When you log in to your social media accounts (or any account for that matter), don't forget to log out before you go away.

You can also go to your social media accounts' settings where you can find all the active sessions. This way you'll find out on what devices your social accounts are connected at the moment and you can manually disconnect them.


8. Secure your phone

Your smartphone is a huge library of personal information and the shortest gateway to all your social media accounts.

If someone manages to steal your phone, he'll get access to all your social media accounts without hassle if it's not properly protected. Another way hackers can get access to your social media accounts through your phone is if they exploit the vulnerabilities when you're connecting to the internet through an unsecured WiFi network.

It doesn't matter if you own an Android or iOS device, they should all be protected by a thick layer of security.

We wrote more posts going through the best practices for strong smartphone security. They'll help you better protect your phone and devices.


9. Protect your computer

We talked about how one of the social media security threats are malicious links that can install malware on your computer or get you to unprotected websites.

So you keep yourself secure from different types of malware that could make their way into your computer through social media, it's crucial you protect your computer.

Install an antivirus software on your computer so it can scan all the files you download online and stop them from harming your computer if they contain malware.

Also, make sure you keep your browsers, operating system, and software up to date. This is an important aspect of keeping your computer secured.

And if you want even more security when surfing online so you don't become the victim of an online attack, other tools such as a firewall, a VPN service, and a secure WiFi network will properly protect your privacy, identity, accounts, and money.


Conclusion

You might think that social media security risks are not so dangerous and it's hard for someone to hack into your accounts. But you should know that even big companies and organizations had their social media accounts compromised.

So, before you go back to sharing your life experiences on social media, make sure you're protecting your accounts by:

  • Not oversharing private information such as your phone number, address, and so on.
  • Set up your information to be private.
  • Enhance your social media security by using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
  • Clean up your friends' list and don't accept friend requests until you make sure the profile is genuine.
  • Don't forget to log out from your accounts if you connect from someone else's device.
  • Don't click on links that seem suspicious, especially if you receive them in a message, out of nowhere.
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