Social media and social networks has taken the world by storm and it has changed the very ways of how we digest news, learn new information on the world around us, follow ‘influencers’ who dictate what is cool and what is not, and perform our online shopping or business marketing, . It seems like everyone belongs to at least one of these online communities, be it your mom, dad, or grandma. Heck, even my cousin has add me on Instagram for a page for her pet cat.
While it may be fun to discover all the amazing sides of social media, you know who else has discovered the same thing? Cyber criminals.
What they have in mind however, is very different. Cyber criminals are out there on social media with one thought in mind: to exploit it to steal your personal information for private gains.
Social media is growing faster than we know how to control it. Nevertheless, these are a couple tips from BolehVPN if you would like to gain some control over your social media and adopt safety precautions which are free and simple to implement.
We know it seems very easy to click on any link or download any app without a second’s thought.
However, this can be equivalent to opening the door for cyber criminals and even giving them the key to your ‘house’.
Think before you download an app. Is it really necessary to share all that the app is asking you to share? Can you trust its source?
Bad links can lead you to malware, viruses, and all kinds of nasty things. Cyber criminals may send you links or phishing emails that “require immediate action” to avoid account suspension or supposedly continue using the service for free. If a social media platform wanted to communicate with you, you would first and foremost typically get it through the network’s notifications, rather than an email or message.
Similar to point 1, avoid searching for a social media site and clicking through to go to the site. Or worse, click on a social media link circulate through a passing message.
Cyber criminals are getting so good at creating fake social media sites with similar names which look like exact replicas of the social media’s login form. And when you login with your credentials, it is the cyber criminals who are getting your information rather than the social network.
What you can do is to type the URL directly into your browser, or alternatively bookmark the site for easy access.
Social media can be fun, and it seems like in this day and age, our follower count and ‘Likes’ form some sort of validation for self-worth.
This can mean we readily open our doors to strangers online and approve friend requests to people we do not know for the sake of building our online following. Or choose to keep our accounts public instead of private.
Not only be selective with friend requests, but you can make it a practice to vet through their profile before confirming it is someone you know.
In a personal experience, I have had friends who had imposters creating ‘catfish’ accounts with their photos because their accounts had been public, and went around adding their fellow friends. Thankfully, the ‘catfisher’ was reported early into his shenanigans and was able to be stopped.
The moral of the story is, however, if you want to keep your social media account safe, you should be selective in the people you are letting into your online lives.
There is a good reason why your PC or smartphone is constantly buzzing to be updated every once in a while. In fact, you should be more worried if it does not!
Updates for your social media app or antivirus software, browser and privacy settings are important because, like malware and viruses, they too are constantly updating to be more lethal.
Make use of social media privacy settings which send you notifications whenever your account has been logged into from a new device. Constantly reviewing your account activity can help you monitor if there have been multiple failed logins detected, which is a tell-tale sign that someone is attempting to hack into it.
Additionally, review your connected apps that you have granted to third-party apps. While everyone was once busy connecting their Facebook accounts to games such as Words With Friends or Draw Something, if you are no longer playing these anymore, you should revoke any access you gave to these apps which are possibly reading your profile information or posting unknowingly on your behald.
(Read also: 4 Ways To Check What Data Your Apps Have Access To)
Another good practice is to separate any work, private or miscellaneous emails you have for different purposes, and to maintain separate passwords for them.
If clicking on simply any website link was the equivalent of giving cyber criminals your key ( see Point 1), using the same login and password for all accounts would be equivalent of handing them the master key to any house, car, safety box you own.
“Well but I really don’t want to remember all those many passwords, so I’ll just keep the same password across all my accounts.”
That is actually really bad practice. The truth of the matter is, the password IS the key and main security to your accounts.
Wouldn’t you rather have a strong key to your house that you knew could resist attacks, prevent sawing, or was water-resistant etc.?
That is why a strong and unique password is vital. What constitutes as a strong password? A strong password is usually an alphanumeric password with more than six characters, and should have at least one capital letter and one special character.
And if you are one of the many who feel remembering complex passwords is too complicated to remember, why not opt for a password manager? (which can also be free to use)
If you want to go one step further with your login security, try two-factor authentication.
It is no longer effective to have just a password as your authentication. Now you can also start getting into two-stage of authentication for your social media.
Major social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter already support two-step authentication.
So what is two-factor authentication?
Well, you already know that the first level of authentication is of course your password. The second one is to authenticate through your phone; either through text or calls.
What that does for you is that it will send you a code to enter every single time you login, so that it gives you two levels of security before you (or a hacker) can even reach your account.
If you think about it, this is a big thing. Because if a hacker was able to get a hold of your password (these days there are bots, which with just your username, are able to guess and figure out your password), hackers will already be able to gain access of your account. But with a second security level of a code, this makes it harder to gain access to your account because it makes a hacker require the text sent to you before they can get into the account.
With that said, it is possible for you to be social and safe at the same time at no additional costs. And since these steps are all so simple and free to practise, why not make use of them?