How to Stay Safe & Secure When Using Social Media

Considering that over a billion people use Facebook, 500 million Twitter and 400 million Google+, the consideration that our information may not be as secure as we hope is more prevalent than ever.

To minimize the risk and to have a higher chance of protecting your information when using social media platforms, there are several things you need to be doing. If you are not doing these now, then you really should be.

Maintain a good password

It’s the most obvious, but there are still a lot of people who don’t put any real thought into their password security.

Amongst the top passwords that people use, which are easily hackable are:

  1. Password (unchanged from 2011)
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678

If you want your information to stay secure, you must choose something that cannot easily be included in a dictionary attack.

Morgan Slain of SplashData, a computer security firm, recommends using passphrases. These are strings of words linked through dashes, full stops and underscores.

It’s also good practice to change your password (or phrase) every 50 days too.

Check settings regularly

As many of the social sites update on a regular basis, it’s recommended to check your preferences every once in a while to ensure that they are still set to your specs.

Often, an update will automatically reset your preferences and you might not notice until too late. Keeping an eye out will minimize the risk of this happening for too long.

Don’t reveal too much

Identity theft is one of the main disadvantages of using social media. In 2011 approximately 12 million Americans suffered from some form of identity theft and this was mainly due to the increase in social networking site usage.

The information you provide can be turned against you, so understand that it’s not necessary to type in every exact detail of your personal life onto the internet. For example:

  • Don’t tag your location when you are updating about going on holiday
  • Don’t choose usernames that reveal information that could be used against you  e.g ‘JoeManchester1985’
  • Compartmentalize. Try to limit what you share on each social platform. Information on Facebook should be different from the information you share on Twitter.

Getting an education

The best advice anyone could give is for you to brush up on your internet security protocols. Make sure that you understand how malicious programs and people can access and use your social media information. Read articles that explain common mistakes and how to avoid them.

David Ingram is a part of the Digital Marketing Team at HANDD.co.uk, a leading provider of data security solutions. They specialize in data loss prevention and secure file transfer products.