Beyond the benefits of community building and staying in touch with people you live far away from, we should all be aware of the security risks inherent in using social media. Some of us share a lot, and some of the thing we share could make us vulnerable to hackers.
Follow these tips to keep yourself as safe as possible in the world of social media.
- Assume that everything you put on a social networking site is permanent. Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily print photos or text or save images and videos to a computer.
- Be careful about installing extras on your site. Many social networking sites allow you to download third-party applications that let you do more with your personal page. Criminals sometimes use these applications to steal your personal information. To download and use third-party applications safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the web. Modify your settings to limit the amount of information apps can access.
- Talk to your kids about social networking. If you’re a parent of children who use social networking sites, be clear about the dangers and keep an open line of communication with your kids. Remind them that future employers (or their grandmother) could be viewing what they post, so keep it clean!
- Customize privacy options. Social networking sites increasingly give users more control over their own privacy settings. Don’t assume you have to take whatever default settings the site gives you. Check out the settings, configuration, and privacy sections to see what options you have to limit who and what groups can see various aspects of your personal information.
- Don’t trust, just verify. There are lots of reasons (most of them bad) why someone might impersonate or falsify an identity online. How can you verify that the page belongs to who you think it does before sharing too much information or clicking on links? Start by being on the lookout for anything unusual or out of the ordinary. If the content on the site doesn’t look like or sound like the person you know, avoid it. Let your friend know that someone might have hacked their account.
- Change your password often. Follow best practices when creating new passwords—make them long and complex and random, an also different from all other passwords.