Let’s face it: the days of René Descartes’ “I think there for I am” is over. We have entered the era of You can Google me therefore I exist. And for most normal human beings, their Google results will more often than not yield their profiles from various social networks. And in a day and age when we can digitally curate our existence, it is important to keep full control of our accounts. And as internet availability is about everywhere in the planet, security issues can plague users if they become careless and don’t take precautions. Whether you are on facebook , twitter or any other platform, Social networking security is important. So here are the 10 things everyone needs to keep in mind:
1. Thou shall have a password master list. There’s a reason why they sell all locks with spare keys and that is because for some reason or another, people are inclined to lose their keys. And when it comes to social networks, access is important. Make a list of all your username and password for all social networking accounts that you create and remember to keep it somewhere safe. Please, for the love of all that you hold dear, please don’t write it on a post it posted to your monitor. Whatever your do, keep this list safe, secured and accessible.
2. Thou shall log out. One basic security measure is frequently forgotten: log off any website that requires you to enter a username and password. That Log Out button/link was placed there for a reason. Use it.
3. Thou shall have a strong password. As tempting as it is to use the name of your dog or whatever easy to remember date/name/word pops into your mind as a password when you sign up, DON’T. Just because you don’t think hackers will come for you doesn’t mean that they won’t. Some are after your identity. Others are getting paid to spam – either via email or through social networking. I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times before but let me say it one more time: create hacker-safe passwords to keep your information secure.
You may think using the name of your significant other is sweet but wait until you two have a bad break up and he/she gains access to your account and post degrading photos/things about you on your account and locks you out. And no, “password” doesn’t qualify as a password either.
4. Thou shall avoid using the same password with every account. What is worse than a lover scorned gaining access to one of your social networking accounts? A lover scorned gaining access to all of your accounts. Please, I beg you — unless your password takes an hour to type out and at least a month to crack — avoid using the same password for more than one account, service or resource. If one is cracked the others will be cracked as well.
5. Thou shall be careful in providing your log in details. If a website is asking for your log in details from another site and you’re not sure why you need to provide it you most probably shouldn’t. Be mindful of where you log in. I assure you, nothing creates more hassle than a website gaining access to your account and spamming your profile and your friends with ads and viruses!
6. Thou shall not use the ‘remember password’ option of your browser(s). What’s the use of logging out if your browser is more than happy to help anyone log in using your account? Disable the remember password feature of your browser. In fact it will be better if you treat your passwords like underwear: change them often and don’t leave them lying around! And don’t share it with anybody. Not even your browser!
7. Thou shall not click suspicious links. You can’t find out who saw your profile. You won’t see what you’ll look like in the future. You won’t know what that man saw when he walked in on his daughter. There are no free iPads. And you can’t see the video of Osama’s death… Not on social networks. Stop clicking spam links, exposing yourself and friends to virus risks.
8. Thou shall be careful of what you share. Be careful when posting sensitive information such as phone numbers, addresses, etc. Never post your password. 80% of security risks is a PEBKAC/ID-10T problem.
9. Thou shall enable https whenever available. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a combination of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol with the SSL/TLS protocol to provide encrypted communication and secure identification of a network web server. That said, https can prevent a lot of hacks and protect your information. Of special note are viruses that targets information over non-encrypted wireless connections. What’s interesting as well is that scammers and hackers are now focusing on Social networking sites because information is so easy to get. Plus, because there are so many users of these sites, the targets are almost limitless.
One easy but useful precaution is to force secure browsing by using “https” instead of just “http” on the url. (i.e. https://www.facebook.com/ )
10. Thou shall be careful of SMMs. No, they’re not special M&M’s. No need to worry. Social Media Monitoring (SMM) tools are generally used to help update social media accounts without the hassle of logging into every social networking site individually. However, recent testing have revealed that some SMMs like Hootsuite, Sproutsocial, and Cotweet “are NOT using secure browsing by default, allowing us to hijack sessions. What does this mean? Well by adding your social media accounts into these SMM tools, you are granting the tool permission or full control over that account(s).” In simple words: you just made crazy ex-lover’s (or a hacker’s) job a whole lot easier.
This list is by no means extensive/comprehensive. What do you think? Feel free to add your thoughts on the comment section below!