Social media has many benefits, however it also has some pitfalls for personal security. At it's core social media is all about putting personal information out on the internet. Even some of the most minor facts might be enough to give identity thieves and hackers the information they need to make your life difficult. Fortunately, there are many ways you can protect yourself and your personal information while enjoying social media!
1. Know Your Security Settings
Facebook in particular, is notorious for having difficult to understand security settings, and changing them often. However, knowing these settings and how they impact your account will help you to control your information better and are a necessity. Get to know your settings, and ensure they set to your liking.
2. Use Good Passwords
What makes up a good password? Well it should be unique (no reusing the same password for many accounts!) and it should contain no words found in the dictionary, or names.
A good password should have:
- letters (lower case & uppercase)
- at least 6 characters
How will you ever remember those passwords? Fortunately there are many tools available to help you manage your passwords. Apps like LastPass will help you generate secure passwords and manage them. Many also have mobile apps, so you can use them on your mobile device!
3. Choose Different Security Questions
What's your mother's maiden name? What's your favorite color? These are two of the most common security questions. They are also pretty easy to find the answers to! You know those "facts about me" questionnaires that go around social networks from time to time? They can have answers to those types of security questions. So if possible choose the less well known security questions, or if the service allows, create your own! If neither of those options are available you can always input a unique (and possibly untrue and unrelated) answer - just remember what you answered!
4. Use 2 Factor Authentication
More and more social networks and other sites are offering two factor authentication. This helps keep your account secure by requiring a randomly generated code, that's usually either sent to your mobile device or generated by an app. You then input the code in addition to imputing your other log in credentials.
5. Use Location Services Carefully
Location services can be great for finding friends near you, but they also can have a darker side. It's very easy for would-be thieves to find out that you're not home and your house is unattended using check ins and other GPS data.
6. Share Carefully & Use Common Sense
The sad fact is people aren't always who they seem on the internet. Give random friend requests a good hard look before accepting. Do you really want to share your life with that stranger you don't even know? Does the entire Twitterverse really need to know that bit of identifying personal information? A little caution can go a long way to keeping your personal info safe!
Sometimes through no fault of our own, personal data is compromised. However, these simple tips will help keep you and your information safer online. Personal security doesn't stop with these steps, don't forget to secure your device, and follow these tips to keep your data safe online!