LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat
Social networks have changed the way we experience the world. Social platforms can seem harmless, and scrolling through our social feeds can be entertaining and help us unwind after a stressful day. But social media isn't as safe as it seems, so it's important to take precautions when using it. Here are five tips for safer digital behaviour.
1. Check your social media privacy settings
When was the last time you checked your privacy settings on a social media site? If it's been a while, go in and see if your posts, profile information and friends list are open to the public. If they are, consider restricting them so that only your friends can see what you share
Default settings are often quite lenient, giving strangers more insight into your life than they should have.
Social media platforms also roll out new privacy settings from time to time. If you haven't looked at your settings recently, you may be missing an opportunity to strengthen your digital security.
Considering expanding your network by creating a profile on a new social media platform? The medium probably won't ask you to check privacy settings as you go, so take the time to do it yourself.
2. Share as little personal information as possible
Social media gives you an effective way to share your life with family, friends and acquaintances - and everyone else too. The conversations you have on all your profiles can even feel private and intimate, as if you were chatting with your friends in person
During the pandemic, these connections have been an important lifeline for people isolating themselves at home. There are also many businesses that have resorted to social media.
It's only human to want to connect with others on social media when it's not possible to meet people in person, but don't get swept up in a false sense of security when you're having conversations that strangers can also see.
Especially if your posts are public on social media, share as little personal information as possible in your content. This includes addresses, phone numbers, pet names and relationships.
3. Be careful when replying to people you don't know
One of the best parts about social media is that we get connected and seen by sharing content. So when an interesting post pops up on your feed, you may be tempted to comment. However, if the post is from an account you don't know, take a good look at it before replying
Facebook groups in particular are notorious for spreading innocent-looking posts that invite you to cough up personal information, such as your birthday or a login username, which cybercriminals can steal and use to access your online accounts. Online quizzes and games often try to do the same.
These social media attacks exploit one of our cognitive biases about cyber security: our optimism bias. We don't think a hacker from the other side of the world is interested in our information
The reality, however, is that cybercriminals can and will go after ordinary people's personal information. By resisting the urge to comment on suspicious posts on various media, you can protect yourself from social engineering attacks.
4. Keep an eye out for scams on various social media sites
You may have gotten good at identifying fake emails. You're also probably tired of all the spam calls you've been getting on your phone. But you may not be as vigilant when it comes to social media.
If you get a private message that looks suspicious and contains a link, treat it the same way you would a suspicious email. Report it as a phishing message if you can and delete it.
Also be careful when adding new friends and communicating with people you don't know. Catfishing is not limited to dating apps, and it is more common to receive requests from fake users than you might think. If someone you're already friends with on social media sends you a new friend request, be wary.
It's possible that it's a scammer trying to impersonate your friend, so ask your friend, preferably by means other than social media, if the request is genuine before you accept it. While you're at it, take a look at your friends list. Friends have privileged access to your personal information, and if they get hacked, you might be next. If there's someone on your friends list you don't really know, remove them.
5. Take advantage of smart cyber security tools
If you are exhaustedt just thinking about all the ways you have to protect yourself to live your life online, so don't worry. There are smart cybersecurity tools that can ease the burden, making it easier to stay safe on social media. You can use a password manager to keep your social media passwords safe and protect them from malicious actors.
When it's time to update one of your social media passwords or make it stronger, the password manager will automatically notify you and then allow you to automatically generate a new password.
And if hackers manage to get hold of one of your social media passwords in a data breach, the password manager's dark web monitoring feature will notify you so you can reset the compromised password immediately (assuming your chosen password manager has that feature).
Two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) can protect your social media accounts even further. If you see one of these options available while browsing your account settings, take the time to activate it. When you do, the 2FA or MFA tool will ask you to complete an additional step each time you log in to your social media account.
You may receive a text message or email with a verification code, or you can use an authentication app to provide the code directly from your phone. Once this extra layer of security is in place, it will be harder for cybercriminals to access your social media account - and you'll know if one of them tries.
It's easier to be safe on social networks than you might think
Our presence on social media allows us to connect with others in a way that wasn't possible before. But just like in the real world, there are also unpleasant people who hang out on social platforms. Staying safe on social media involves using the same kind of common sense that you would use in the real world.
Smart cybersecurity tools can lighten the load and help you protect your social media accounts. By following these concrete tips to secure your digital life, you can gain more control and peace of mind while using your various social media channels.
Sofie Meyer is a copywriter and phishing aficionado here at Moxso. She has a master´s degree in Danish and a great interest in cybercrime, which resulted in a master thesis project on phishing.