Early 2019 marks the fifteenth anniversary of Facebook’s launch. Since the winter of 2004, social media has come a long way, becoming deeply ingrained in the live of billions of people worldwide. According to the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of Americans used YouTube in 2018 and 68 percent were on Facebook. Even smaller network such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest reach at least one-quarter of the U.S. population.
While it’s great for maintaining and creating connections, social media carries many significant cybersecurity risks. Some security analysts have actually argued that social media and privacy are incompatible, which has some truth to it. At the same time, there are steps most social media users can take to dramatically reduce the risks to both their privacy and personal security on major platforms.
Watch out for phishing and other scams like Fyre
Phishing isn’t just something that happens over email. On social media, spear phishing in particular has become a common tactic for tricking people into taking action that jeopardizes their data. For example, an attacker might harvest details that are publicly available on someone’s profile, like their address or date of birth, and use them to craft carefully targeted messages imploring them to follow a link to a compromised site.
Be suspicious of all unsolicited messages on social media and limit what information you make publicly viewable. Don’t click on links that have been shortened to obscure their real destination. And be skeptical of improbable stories like a friend saying they need money because they’re stranded in the desert – or, if we’re being realistic, inviting you to something like the Fyre Festival. This event, which scammed numerous concert-goers and vacationers through carefully managed projection across social networks, wasn’t phishing per se, but it illustrates how easy it to be deceived on social media.
Avoid filling out personal surveys or posting sensitive materials
A while back, there was a trend of viral surveys, especially on Facebook, that people would fill out and post for their followers. It seemed harmless, but it contained a familiar risk – divulging way too much personal information and in turn, having that data harvested by cyberattackers or bots.
Before posting anything, consider what, if any, revealing details it might contain. Then, consider either not posting it at all or turning the post’s settings – or your entire account – to private so that only approved individuals can see your activity.
Pay attention to third-party apps asking for access
You’ve probably granted an app or two access to one of your social media accounts, likely to log in more easily to a website. It’s important to review these approvals regularly and deactivate any that you no longer need. Maintaining a lot of these connections can increase the risk of data leakage from your account.
To further secure your social media activity, take a look at Total Defense Ultimate Internet Security, which delivers wide-reaching protection while you’re online.