Stay safe with social media

Social networking is no longer a pastime reserved for young adults. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are some of the most popular applications on our devices and are accessed daily by millions of people.

With so much traffic to the same sites every day, social networks have become a high-risk area when it comes to online safety. Between account hackers and online messaging available to anyone, it’s important to be sure you’re safe when using these networks.

  • Online security and privacy is the first step and each network has its own settings. Make sure you know what each network’s default privacy settings are and how you can manipulate them to help control who can search, view and interact with you. If you can, make your account private or require your approval before another user can see your information.
  • When filling out your profile avoid posting confidential information like your address or phone number. Think carefully about whether or not you want to include other information like your hometown, place of work and educational background. This type of information is key in phishing attacks , so be sure you aren’t sharing anything you wouldn’t tell a stranger. For professional sites like LinkedIn, a good rule of thumb is only including what you would share at a job interview.
  • Operate your social media profiles under the motto that once it’s been posted, it’s permanent. Think twice before posting photos or writing something you may regret later.
  • When it comes to friends or connections on social networks, don’t accept just anyone’s request. Be sure you know each one of your connections and manage those that have access to your profiles. Depending on your profession, you may choose not to connect with clients, students or those you work with.
  • If you receive a suspicious request or are being harassed or threatened, block those individuals and report them to the site administrator.
  • Never exchange personal information over an online message function. Hackers can break into accounts and send messages that look like they’re from your friends, but aren’t. If you come across an interaction or message that seems fraudulent, contact that friend offline to find out if it’s really them. If necessary, notify the site administrator.
  • If your children have social media accounts of their own, help them understand the importance of security on social networks. Help them learn how to set protections on their accounts and monitor their activity if necessary.
  • If applicable, be mindful of policies set by your employer. Some organizations have guidelines set in place to help employees stay safe and protect the company.

By utilizing these tips on social networks, you are protecting yourself against many risks.

Editor’s Note:  Segments of this article were taken from StaySafeOnline.org, Microsoft,com and NetworkWorld.com.