In recent years, social media has become an integral part of human interaction. We use it to stay in touch with people from our past, make new friends and express ourselves in a number of ways. We update various social media accounts throughout the day and have a hard time imagining what life would be like without Facebook, Twitter and other popular mainstays. In light of their massive popularity, there’s little wonder as to why social media outlets have attracted the attention of cybercriminals. These sites provide them an endless supply of targets, many of whom willingly make their personal information publicly viewable. Fortunately, staying safe on social media doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Putting the following pointers to good use will help shield you from the whims of hackers, scammers and other unsavory characters you’ll find across the social media landscape.
- Engage in Active Password Protection
Each day, countless social media accounts are taken over by hackers and used for a variety of terrible things. In the fight against hackers, active password protection can be one of your most valuable allies. For starters, this entails creating passwords that are impossible to guess through any normal means. Such passwords should contain at least three words and incorporate an assortment of numbers and symbols. For best results, opt for utter nonsense. Using a well-known saying or turn of phrase as a password is never recommended, as these are among the first things hackers guess. As an added layer of protection, make a point of changing your social media passwords every few months. Furthermore, use a different password for each account. This way, a hacker successfully guessing one of your social media passwords doesn’t mean he or she will gain access to all of your accounts.
- Watch for Suspicious Links
Cybercriminals love spreading malicious links, and social media outlets often provide them with the perfect playgrounds in which to do so. As any longtime social media user can confirm, there’s no shortage of posts that contain links. However, not all of these links are equally trustworthy. In order to hide a link’s true nature, criminals will often shorten the text, thus preventing people from seeing the full web address. Safety-conscious users can get around this by hovering over links, as this will reveal their complete addresses. More often than not, malicious links lead to sites designed to steal personal information and/or spread malware. Social media users with websites of their own to protect can send malware packing with the security solutions discussed in SiteLock reviews.
- Keep Your Operating System Up to Date
Many social media users – and internet users in general – don’t fully grasp the importance of installing system updates. Since large update packages can take upwards of 10 minutes to fully install, updating doesn’t always gel with people living in the age of instant gratification. However, each system update has a specific purpose, and most updates have a few security components. Updates are often created to patch newly discovered vulnerabilities and combat emerging cyber threats, making them a boon to anyone who regularly uses social media. Since social media platforms are frequently used as testing grounds for new varieties of malware, anyone looking to keep their devices free of malicious software should install updates as they become available.
- Be Mindful of What You Share
Cybercriminals thrive on information theft, and social media has made obtaining pertinent info on targets a much easier undertaking. Social media users frequently reveal important personal information for the world to see, unaware of how dangerous this can be. Even seemingly innocuous details like your name, address and birthday can be used for nefarious purposes upon falling into the wrong hands. If you absolutely refuse to stop sharing sensitive info online, consider making your social media accounts private. This isn’t an end-all solution to prying eyes, but it will deter the vast majority of information thieves.
Even though it’s only been part of our daily lives for about a decade, it’s hard for many people to conceive of a time before social media. Social media is here to stay, and this fact has not gone unnoticed by the internet’s ever-expanding plethora of cybercriminals. Each day, these individuals use social media outlets as vehicles for spreading malware, perpetrating scams and committing various other crimes. In the quest for social media security, remember to protect your passwords, avoid clicking suspicious links, keep your operating system up to date and be mindful of what you share.