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Social media has become the easiest way for people to keep in touch and for businesses to reach their audiences. Social platforms are an outlet for people to connect, share life experiences, and post as much or as little about their day-to-day life.
With the popularity of social media comes the issue of security. Social media users’ concerns about the security of their data on these platforms have spiked in recent years. Data breach incidents have forced many users to rethink how much data they avail on these platforms.
If you are concerned about the privacy of your data on social media, here is everything you need to know about ensuring you remain protected.
Social media security risks you need to know about
Every time you use the internet, you leave a trail that leads back to your location and device. Whenever someone creates a social media account, they are required to put in their personal information that includes their name, date of birth, location, and personal interest. Most people do not bother to read how the social media platform plans to use this data.
Facebook, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn are social sites known to harvest user data and use it for targeted advertising. Most companies collect user data and use it to track user behavior online to determine the best ads to display on the user’s feed.
In some cases, companies share user data with third parties, often without the consent or knowledge of the user. Sometimes this information can fall into the hand of scammers, leading to identity loss or even financial loss.
In 2019, a major phishing scam targeted Instagram users by mimicking a legitimate 2FA system. Many unsuspecting users logged into a fake Instagram page, giving the scammers access to their real account login details.
Most social media phishing attacks are sent in the form of text messages, emails, and phone calls from fake contacts posing as legitimate organizations. The message sent can include a link that redirects the unsuspecting user to a page where they are required to disclose personal information like banking details and passwords.
Malware is any type of malicious software designed to access a computer or device system to collect data secretly. Once in the computer system, it can run in the background as it collects user data or takes over the system, rendering it unusable unless a ransom is paid. Social media platforms are some of the most preferred delivery platforms for malware programs. Once one account is compromised, the hacker uses it to distribute the malware to the user’s contacts and friends.
Social media bots are automated accounts that post and follow users that use preset keywords or terms. It is possible to create a network of bots referred to as a botnet. Social media platforms are famous for hacker bots used to steal data, spam accounts, and distribute DDoS attacks. These bots help cybercriminals to identify their victims and infiltrate their networks and devices.
How to secure your account on social media
Use different passwords for different social media accounts
This is an absolute essential if you have different social media accounts. Since they all probably use the same email address, you need to ensure the passwords are different to make it harder for a hacker to compromise all your accounts in case they compromise one.
If you are worried about remembering all the passwords, you can invest in the a password managing app. This tool creates unique passwords for all your accounts and saves them in one secure location, making signing in a breeze.
2FA is a 2-step authentication security measure that requires you to enter a real-time generated code after your password to access an account. When you set up 2FA on your social media accounts, a hacker cannot access your account even with a compromised password. The code is sent to the account owner’s authenticator app or a mobile device via text message. Without this code, their hacking attempts are rendered futile.
Use a VPN
A VPN or a virtual private network is a security tool to mask a user’s online activity. When you connect to a VPN, you can hide your location, IP address, and online traffic from hackers and internet crawlers. This security enhancement tool also protects you from hackers when using public Wi-Fi networks, ensuring all your online activity is encrypted.
Watch out for phishing emails
Most hackers gain access to social media accounts through phishing schemes via email. Most of the time, the emails they send are fake alerts about security breaches on your social account, requiring you to click on a provided link to change your credentials immediately. They steal your login details once you avail them and use them to hack your account. Before you click any links, counter-check to ensure you are not dealing with a phishing site.
Limit the amount of information you share
If you do not want to become a victim of targeted advertising or identity theft, you need to limit how much information you share on social platforms. Where possible, avoid filling the about me page and be careful about sharing sensitive information like your legal name, phone number, and birthdate.
Improving your social media security is not just for you but for your friends and family too. The tips in this article can help you enhance your social media privacy and security.