social_media_securityPeople are connecting with their different devices to Social Media on a daily basis. They use sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, MySpace to interact with colleagues, family and friends. There is no doubt, Social Media has changed our lives in a positive way! However, there is serious security dangers to consider before using Social Media so loosely and freely.

The internet can be one huge insecure jungle and anyone can become a victim! Hackers, spammers, identity thieves and criminals may be lurking on your wall!

I have put together some tips to help you to browse and interact on these sites securely.

1- Always use complex passwords
Your passwords must be at least 8 characters length and include a combination of at least three upper and/or lowercase letters, punctuation, symbols, and numerals. The more variety of characters in your password, the better. Try to change your passwords at least every 3 months and obviously do not use the same password for all of your online applications and websites. A great tool to help manage your passwords is Lastpass.

2- Watch out what you click
This rule is simple,  just because it comes from a friend you know DOES NOT MEAN its safe! Unfortunately hackers are using unsuspecting accounts to do the dirty job for them.  If a link does not seem right, try contacting your friend first to make sure it is actually from them. The most common fraudulent links have to do with gambling,  lotteries, online surveys, free vacations and seeing your favorite celeb’s sex tape. I think you get the picture, but obviously some common sense is necessary because scammers get better and better.

3- Become familiar with the social media site’s privacy settings
Be very careful, because everything you post may become available to the public, that means potential employers, police, hackers, scammers and nosy people. However, it is possible to select what you want to share and with who. This is not always an easy fine tune for your account settings, because the many available options can easily become confusing. There is a good Facebook account privacy guide here.

4- Never post sensitive personal or financial information
Do not post any type of information that a criminal could use to their advantage. That includes banking info, social security number etc. Think wisely before posting dates and times of  when you leave your house for example, on vacation. A local criminal could use that information to their advantage to break into your house and commit a robbery. You know how you probably answered a personal question as a password reminder if you needed to click on the forgot password and confirm your identity. Well if your question was; What is my pet’s name?  And, Fury your hamster’s name is plastered on your Facebook wall, don’t be surprised if that account gets hacked.

5-Do not allow social networking services to scan your email address book
You will be labeled a spammer pretty fast if you allow social media sites to build their databases with your friends email addresses. When you sign up read carefully to skip that step and avoid having to give them permission to do so.

6-Be selective who you accept as friends
If your profile is designed for friends and family only, than it may contain sensitive information. Do not just accept any friend requests as hackers will create fake profiles to get more information about you. Some people have more public profiles like actors, entertainers and small business owners where this would not apply as much. However, they need to be extremely cautious about what they post publicly. One slip up and you could regret it for a long time to come!

7-Be careful about installing extras from third party applications on your profile
Always use precaution when allowing third party application to access your profile, friend list, personal description and email addresses. These applications even allow themselves to perhaps post on your behalf. Make sure you can trust the companies or developers who you give those permissions as they could easily cause a lot of damage and even steal your personal information.

8- Keep your operating system, internet browser and antivirus software up-to-date
Keep an eye on the maintenance center in your operating system. The firewall should be turned on and running. Your latest anti virus and anti spyware software should be up-to-date. Your internet browser such as IE, Chrome or Firefox should be updated to the latest version. If you are running Windows XP we strongly suggest that you upgrade to at least Windows 7 now to benefit from a more secure experience online.

9-Be careful using Social Media at work
It has become very common to take a Social Media Break at work. But, you may be seriously compromising the security of your companies network so use common sense when browsing on the job. On the other hand, never take for granted that your companies network is entirely secure and beware when surfing in your private and confidential pages.


Remember these tips as you surf on social media and you will increase your chances of being secure and safe. Be cautious because, everything you post online is there for life. People can capture screen shots within seconds that it was posted. Take charge of your social media network reputation and share these tips with your kids as well as others. Help keep the criminals at bay and the experience of social online interaction a positive one.