Can you imagine a world without social media? No Snapchat, no Instagram, no Twitter, no Facebook!
A world where children and adults woke up in the morning and got excited about playing outdoors and seeing each other in the flesh, rather than being sucked into their phones; checking their feeds, likes and comments – zombies to the real world around them. A world where security and privacy were tangible, physical problems we could easily identify and protect ourselves against. Well – incredibly, such a world did exist, and only 14 years ago. A time before social media, a world before Facebook; the oldest used platform which commenced its takeover on February 04 2004. But now the world can’t … I mean actually CAN’T survive without it.
There is no going back it seems, so while we must make the most of a world lived within social media, we must be aware of the ongoing harmful risks associated with its use; aware of real problems like identity theft or data leakage, fake requests from spam profiles, risks in social sharing, profile hacking, fake apps and malicious links to name a few. Let’s identify some of these and see how best to protect ourselves from them…
Identifying the risks when using Social Media
Identity Theft or Data Leakage Around 12 million people in the US alone in 2012 suffered from circumstances relating to identity theft and data leakages, which led to further undesirable fraudulent situations. This resulted in a loss of almost $21 billion in the United States that year. While financial organisations and social media companies are taking steps to protect their customer’s confidential information, hackers continue to find ways around these, obtain personal information and do real damage.
Fake Requests from Spam Profiles On social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, cyber criminals create fake accounts and use them to infiltrate other people’s profiles. These fake accounts lead to harmful viruses being let into our many devices.
Risks in Social Sharing Beware of location services on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, which share your locations along with photographs. This might seem like a “cool” feature, but don’t forget that social media criminals can and do use these location services to find you both digitally and physically.
Profile Hacking Profile hacking is the most common issue in social media scams. Hacking one’s social media account is not a difficult task for even amateur hackers. It takes just minutes for them to do it, especially if you have weak passwords.
Fake Apps and Malicious Links There are many fake apps and links out there which attain personal information including mobile numbers, email ids, passwords, residential addresses, and other personal details. With the help of these details, one can easily become a victim. Apps and links like these are constantly being removed from the world wide web, but as quick as they are deleted, new ones are created. Think before you click!
7 Tips on How Best to Protect Ourselves on Social Media
1. Strong Passwords
A strong password is key to protecting your social media account from being hacked on a primary level. Strong passwords that are difficult to crack make use of alphanumerical codes or a passphrase. A passphrase is a password made up of multiple words, making it easy for you to type and remember, but hard for cyber attackers to guess. Still unsure? Check LastPass, an online password generator to understand what we are talking about.
2. Using Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is basically an additional level of security. It’s also known as Multi-factor authentication. This can be any additional information that is required along with your username and password to log into an account; a one-time pin sent to your phone, a phrase, your fingerprint or a facial scan. For example, as in Google mail, you first log into your account with your unique username and password, and then are asked for a ‘One-Time Password’, (OTP) which is sent to your phone which helps you log into your account in a much safer way.
3. Proper Privacy setting of your Social Profiles
On Facebook, your personal, user information can be visible to other Facebook users – i.e. your name, profile picture, gender, mail-id, username etcetera. Facebook provides an option in which you can select/deselect what you want shown. Check your privacy settings in Facebook and other platforms and remove personal information that could be used against you.
4. Don’t accept requests from unknown profiles
If you wish to stay away from fraudsters and scammers, avoid accepting friend requests on any social media platform from unknown people. If you are not quite sure about a profile, GoLookUp can be a useful tool for you to check someone’s background. But this tool is currently only available for US citizens. But if you don’t know them, don’t accept them.
5. Think twice before clicking any links
There are many malicious links on social media nowadays. Don’t click anything you’re unsure of. These lead to unwanted viruses and are created to obtain you personal information. Think twice before you click any link!
6. Identify fake apps before installing
As mentioned above, there are many applications (apps) on the market which are solely created to gain confidential, personal and private information. Don’t install anything you’re unsure of and double check the apps credentials.
7. Think before you share
We know every social media user is eager to share what he/she is doing at any given time – all the time if possible, but think before you share. Make sure you don’t tag friends and family before you’ve thought about the information you’re sharing, from location to personal information which may lead to unwanted issues in your life.
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