Blog written by Guardline.
According to Global Web Index research, 57.6% of the world's population uses social media with an average daily time of two and half hours. However, social media platforms have varying popularity among different demographics and user preferences. Most users join social media to contact family and friends, while others use their social media accounts to register and log in to external websites.
Social media users do not join social media for the same reasons. Some users target other users' personal information. Therefore, you should be careful how much you share. The most critical social media privacy tip is considering how much you share.
Cybercriminals can use the information to create duplicate social media accounts. They can then use such accounts to target your close friends and relatives.
Sharing photos and videos at different parts of your home online is also risky. Burglars and stalkers can use such information to learn your home's layout and security posture to plan an attack.
We recommend a wireless alarm system to alert you of any intruders or unwanted guests in such a case. Also, combining different forms and types of security systems guarantees your safety.
The Top 4 Dangers of Social Media
Cybercriminals have different ways of gaining access to your personal information on social media. If you do not practice social media safety, you are likely to fall for one of the following:
1. Phishing Scams
Phishing is one of the most popular internet security threat tools among cybercriminals. On social media, hackers use phishing attacks to lure unsuspecting users into accessing personal information, including login details. Hackers create phishing attacks that pose as a legitimate message from a trusted source. However, once you open the urgent email or click the link, cybercriminals can access your account information and cause you damage.
2. Malware Attacks
Malware is malicious software that can access online credentials and compromise data on your device. Cybercriminals use different types of malware for various purposes, such as:
- Spyware - to steal sensitive information
- Ransomware - to extort money
- Adware - to run forced advertisements
Social media platforms are ideal avenues for malware distribution. Once hackers take over an account through a phishing attack, they can easily distribute malware to your followers, friends, or contacts.
3. Data Mining
Most social media platforms request your personal information when you sign up for a new account. Such information may include your name, age, sex, location, hobbies, likes and dislikes, and so forth.
Additionally, social media sites collect data on user behavior for advertising purposes. Social media companies often share such data with third-party companies without the account owner's consent.
Social media users also leave a data trail of their internet journey from the day they signed up. All the posts, memes shared, comments made on other users' posts are accessible at any given time.
Cybercriminals may use such information to hurt or extort money from you. Sometimes, your past social media posts or interactions may come to haunt you when you are looking for a new job.
4. Botnet Attacks
Social media bots are accounts that automatically post and interact on specific topics as prescribed by the controllers. A botnet refers to a network of many bots. Bots are also programmed to follow or send friend requests to users showing similar interests.
Bots are prevalent on social media for stealing sensitive data, spamming users, or launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to enable cybercriminals to take control of users' accounts and networks.
How to Control Social Media Privacy
Social media platforms make us believe that we control our social media privacy. Each platform has privacy settings where you can activate the protection of your online activity. For example, you can control who views your social media status, posts, who you share your location with, and much more.
In reality, this hardly protects your social media privacy. For example, your friends and contacts may share, screenshot, or forward whatever post you meant for your close friends to the public, compromising your privacy.
Even deleting your social media accounts may not help in such a case. This obvious lack of privacy calls for online privacy protection before posting anything on social media.
How To Stay Safe On Social Media
Here are some social media safety tips to help you boost your safety online.
1. Adjust your Privacy Settings
When you get onto a new social media platform, make sure you adjust the privacy settings before sharing any information. Establish who will be able to see your posts and what they'll do with your posts at their end. Also, be sure to limit the amount of information the site can share with third parties without your consent.
2. Account Information
Keep your biographical information private to limit what other users know about you. You can customize your privacy settings to minimize the information displayed on your profile. It's also wise to avoid sharing personal information such as bank accounts, workplace, social security numbers, and driver's license. Cybercriminals can use such information to scam or extort money from you.
3. Friends and Followers
You are not obligated to respond to every friend or follow request, particularly from strangers. If you feel the need to, research them to understand who they are and what content they share. For your safety, do not mindlessly respond or accept every request you receive.
4. Location Sharing
Turn off location sharing to avoid giving reviews to businesses you visit. Your location data is also used for targeted advertisements and promotions, and gives malicious users more firepower when launching a cyber attack against you. It can also be used as a scare-tactic, allowing the malicious user to disclose your location or places you frequent such as your workplace.
5. Photos and Videos
Avoid sharing photos of your kids, pets, and house on social media. Burglars can quickly gain helpful information about your home to their advantage. Sharing your holiday or trip itinerary along with photos may also attract thieves and stalkers. Disclosing this information willingly saves them a lot of time and trouble, while simultaneously making you a more suitable target for them.
6. Avoid Clickbait
Social media platforms do not take responsibility for third-party apps. Avoid clicking on pop-ups and other click-bits that take you to external sites. Third-party sites can capture and misuse your personal information. They will also sell your data to the highest bidder, and this can eventually fall into the wrong hands. It can also be stolen from these less secure third-party platforms, which you want to prevent at all costs.
Conclusion About Protecting Your Social Media Privacy
Privacy policies continue to improve as the federal government enacts laws to enhance consumer privacy. However, before you can rely on social media platforms to protect your privacy, you should continue to follow the tips above.
You can safeguard your personal information and limit data sharing with third parties by using a VPN. Ensure that you have the latest security patches for your operating system and up-to-date virus and malware protection software.
Learn more about "Cybersecurity Awareness Month Safety Tips".
Contributing Writer: Connie Cummings