Social media can be a great way to connect with family, friends and co-workers, follow your favorite businesses and organizations, and stay up-to-date on what’s going on in our town or around the world. Unfortunately, it’s also a hotbed for cybercrime. With many different avenues for hackers and malicious users to pose an attack, it’s important to avoid behavior that could put you at risk.
Here are 4 things to stop doing on social media, immediately.
Stop sharing personal information and preferences
One method cybercriminals use to compromise social media users, is by building profiles of personal information, and using that information in many different ways - from cracking passwords, to guessing account security answers, to posing as a friend or relative to someone you may know, to sending malicious ads or links revolving around something of interest, and more.
If you’re posting your kids’ names, your favorite restaurant, your first car, or even pictures while you’re on vacation, you’re potentially feeding right into these malicious profiles. If you don’t have your security settings tuned to only share with friends or linked accounts, you’re especially opening yourself up for vulnerability.
Stop taking online quizzes
We’ve all seen those quizzes – especially on Facebook – asking you which Harry Potter character you’d want to invite to dinner or what your spirit animal is. It’s easy to be dismissive and wonder “Who actually fills these things out?”, but when the right quiz or contest comes along – usually delivered by user profiling (see above) – it can be hard to resist. Please resist.
Personal information shared in online quizzes, contests and games can not only be used for tailored marketing (e.g. I take a quiz about dog breeds and am delivered ads for dog food), but it can also be used maliciously. As mentioned above, this information can be used in establishing accounting profiles, in an attempt to gain access or pose as an imposter to others.
Stop posting publicly
One of the simplest ways to prevent your account from being compromised, is to update your account’s security settings to only share with users you know. As of 2021, there are approximately 2.8 BILLION active users. When you post publicly, you’re opening your life up to over 20% of the world’s entire population.
Not only can someone access your account and review your timeline, but your content is indexed and is searchable right on Facebook. If you’re over-sharing, and doing it publicly, you’re in even worse shape.
Stop ignoring 2-Factor Authentication
First of all, what is 2-Factor Authentication (2FA)? Just like entering a password is one layer of protection, 2FA adds a second layer of protection. This could include sending a randomly-generated code to your phone or email address, tapping a security key on a compatible device, biometrics, or using a multi-factor authentication app to allow access.
Why is 2FA important? If enabled, when someone cracks your password and successfully logs in to your account, they still can’t get in until that 2nd layer is passed. For example, if you are at work, and you receive a 2FA notification on your phone – and you’re not trying to login to your account – you can deny the request. From there, you can reset your password to prevent additional malicious logins, and review your other security settings.
For the most part, any credible social media platform or website that requires you to login, now offers or enforces 2-Factor Authentication (2FA). If you’re not using it yet, you should. A quick Google search such as “set up Facebook two factor authentication” should pull up what you need. You can also contact us, for more information.
You should also be using 2FA to login to your computer, when using your bank’s website, medical sites, and anything else that would give a malicious user sensitive information.
Social media is a powerful communication tool and can be a fun environment to reconnect with others and stay in-the-know. Make sure you’re using it wisely to protect yourself and others from potential cybercrime.