The internet has introduced many platforms of communications virtually such as the many social media platforms. The problem is that social media is vulnerable to hacks and other cyber crimes; mainly necessitated by over sharing that many people are guilty of in many sites.
We share a wealth of information about ourselves on our social media platforms. We snap perfectly posed selfies, check in at happy hours, tweet at our friends, and announce the arrival of bouncing new babies. The benefits and joys of social media are numerous, but there are privacy risks to consider as well. Social media users tend to over share life details in order to feel connected to friends, family, and coworkers. However, these private details can be used maliciously by cyber thieves to access sensitive accounts, create fraudulent identities, and compromise careers.
The risks of oversharing on social media is a real one as these life details can be used maliciously to access sensitive information and create fraudulent identities. The following is a list of the most common over shares on the internet;
- Photos and other media
- Age and gender
- Biographical information (education, employment history, hometown, etc.)
- Status updates (also known as posts)
- Geographical location
Some of the information that is overshared on social media include contacts, age, and geographical location. This information becomes public in a variety of ways:
- A user may choose to post information as “public” (without restricting access via available privacy settings).
- Certain information may be publicly visible by default. In some situations, a user may be able to change the privacy settings to make the information “private” — so that only approved users can view it. Other information must remain public; the user does not have an option to restrict access to it.
- Approved contacts may copy and repost information – including photos – without a user’s permission, potentially bypassing privacy settings.
- Third-party applications that have been granted access may be able to view information that a user or a user’s contacts post privately.
Currently, there are a lot of games and applications that require to be granted access to view the user’s information, interests, and contacts. Here are some things and general information that you can do to minimize the risks;
1.Use a strong password different from the passwords you use to access other sites.
2.If you were asked to provide security questions, use information that, others would not know about you.
3.Never provide a work-associated email to a social network, especially when signing up. Consider creating a new email address strictly to connect with your social networking profile(s).
4.Consider not using your real name, especially your last name. Be aware that this may violate the terms of service of some social networks.
6.Be sure to keep strong antivirus and spyware protection on your computer.
7.Provide only information that is necessary or that you feel comfortable providing. When in doubt, err on the side of providing less information. Remember, you can always provide more information to a social network, but you cannot always remove information once it has been posted.
8.During the registration process, social networks often solicit a new user to provide an email account password so the social network can access the user’s email address book. The social network promises to connect the new user with others they may already know on the network. To be safe, do not provide this information at all. There are some social networks that capture all of a user’s email contacts and then solicit them – often repeatedly – to join. These messages may even appear to be from the original user. If you consider providing an email address and account password to a social network, read all agreements very carefully before clicking on them.
General Tips for Using Social Networks
1.Become familiar with the privacy settings available on any social network you use. On Facebook, make sure that your default privacy setting is “Friends only”. Alternatively, use the “Custom” setting and configure the setting to achieve maximum privacy.
2.Do not share your birthday, age, or place of birth. This information could be useful to identity thieves and to data mining companies. A research study by Carnegie Mellon University found that Social Security numbers can be predicted based on publicly available information, including your birthday, age and place of birth. The Social Security Administration began assigning randomized number series on June 25, 2011. Unfortunately, the more predictable Social Security numbers will remain in effect for individuals born before June 25, 2011. If you do consider posting your birthday, age or place of birth, restrict who has access to this information using the site’s privacy settings. In addition, some social networking sites allow you to show your birth month and day but hide the year.
4.Be careful when you click on shortened links. Consider using a URL expander (as an application added to your browser or a website you visit) to examine short URLs before clicking on them. Example of URL expanders include Long URL, Clybs URL Expander and Long URL Please (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse does not endorse one URL expander over another.)
5.Be very cautious of pop-up windows, especially any that state your security software is out of date or that security threats and/or viruses have been detected on your computer. Use your task manager to navigate away from these without clicking on them, and then run your spyware and virus protection software.
6.Delete cookies every time you leave a social networking site. See PRC Fact Sheet 18: Privacy and the Internet.
7.Remember that whatever goes on a network might eventually be seen by people, not in the intended audience. Think about whether you would want a stranger, your mother or a potential boss to see certain information or pictures. Unless they are glowing, do not post opinions about your company, clients, products, and services. Be especially cautious about photos of you on social networks, even if someone else placed them there. Do not be afraid to untag photos of yourself and ask to have content removed.
8.Do not publicize vacation plans, especially the dates you will be traveling. Burglars can use this information to rob your house while you are out of town.
9.If you use a location-aware social network, do not make public where your home is because people will know when you are not there. (See Please Rob Me – Raising Awareness about Oversharing) In fact, you should be careful when posting any sort of location or using geotagging features because criminals may use it to secretly track your location. For the same reason, be careful not to share your daily routine. Posting about walking to work, where you go on your lunch break, or when you head home is risky because it may allow a criminal to track you.
10.Be aware that your full birth date, especially the year, may be useful to identity thieves. Do not post it, or at a minimum restrict who has access to it.
11.Do not post your address, phone number or email address on a social network. Remember scam artists as well as marketing companies may be looking for this kind of information. If you do choose to post any portion of this, use privacy settings to restrict it to approved contacts.
13.If you receive a request to connect with someone and recognize the name, verify the account holder’s identity before accepting the request. Consider calling the individual, sending an email to his or her personal account or even asking a question only your contact would be able to answer.
14.If you receive a connection request from a stranger, the safest thing to do is to reject the offer. If you decide to accept the request, use privacy settings to limit what information is viewable to the stranger and be cautious of posting personal information to your account, such as your current location as well as personally identifiable information.