Today, social media sites connect us in extraordinary ways, allowing us to communicate and share information like never before. But the convenience of interacting with friends and acquaintances doesn’t come without a price. A whole set of new risks has surfaced and even though social networks are trying hard, it is often user negligence that leads to compromised security. Even seemingly harmless posts can help criminals crack passwords, steal identities and commit burglary. Thankfully, by optimizing your privacy settings and being mindful of what you share, it is possible to minimize the risk of your personal information falling into the wrong hands. Following are some best practices for your entire family:
When creating a profile, your first priority is to adjust your privacy settings. Make sure that your posts are only visible to your intended friends and groups. If you add details to your profile, keep them hidden to strangers so that they cannot be used as clues your private account passwords. Review your settings periodically as providers tend to change them over time.
THINK BEFORE YOU POST:
Even if you keep all of your settings as private as possible, screenshots of your profile or messages can end up online if you trust the wrong people. Therefore, always think twice before you post or write anything – be it a picture, an opinion, a message or a video. Because once online, it can’t be retracted later. Be especially mindful when…
- Checking-In – By “checking in” to a restaurant or a venue, you inform friends and followers of your location. But sharing your location with a GPS-enabled service in real time enables anyone following your social media activity to recognize that you’re away from home and estimate the time it will take you to complete your visit – leaving your home vulnerable to burglary. If you want to share a meal or concert picture, do so after the fact, when followers cannot ascertain your current whereabouts.
- Revealing personal information – When you join social media sites, you’re often given the option to enter several pieces of personal information, such as your date of birth, home address and current employer. This information anchors social media profiles and forms the critical portion of an online profile. But by filling out several of these categories, you can give enough information for scammers and hackers to guess passwords. For instance, if you provide a maiden name and enough personal information, like email and hometown, an observer may be able to use this information to guess passwords or impersonate you and claim that they have lost a password. Oftentimes, sites rely on personal questions to confirm lost passwords requests. With enough information, a hacker may correctly guess the answers to these questions.
- Revealing images – While many people consider photos a fun way to share experiences and connect with friends, posting certain photos can be dangerous. For instance, much like statuses, vacation photos alert thieves that you’re not home. Lastly, some people post photos of official documents to celebrate a milestone. Be aware that marriage licenses, student loans and mortgage completions contain sensitive information that can be used for identity theft.
If someone is offering you a new car, computer or smart phone in exchange for your sensitive information, such as place or date of birth, or ID number, it is almost certainly a trap. Keep your sensitive data to yourself; before you give them to anyone try to verify the authenticity of the offer.
A good-looking guy or girl has just sent you a message. Do you know him/her, or is it someone you have never seen before in real life? If not, be very wary. Cyberspace provides malicious actors with both anonymity and “camouflage”, which allows them to manipulate victims. Stay on the safe side, limit who can contact you and if possible interact only with people you know personally.
D.F. Dwyer Insurance ©2016