With the never-ending siege of breaches and hacks, recent incidents are reminders of just how vulnerable our personal data is. Most notably, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal sent shockwaves to 2 billion Facebook users worldwide. Another Facebook flaw revealed supposedly private posts to the public affected 14 million Facebook users. Profile data was compromised, big-time by Cambridge Analytica, exposing not only their own personal data but also that of their Facebook friends. In public response to that breach, the #deletefacebook movement caused 8 million users to close their accounts, with another 20% deciding to use it significantly less. It was a huge wake-up call for Facebook and fans of social media everywhere.
Staying safe on social media in light of the Facebook breach as well as being online in general, requires a well-rounded approach to cyber security – including a serious dose of common sense. Not only was Facebook forced take a hard look at data collection and security for their users, but it was a very public reminder of just how important protecting their own data is. Practicing cybersafety can reduce your likelihood of being hacked and good cyber hygiene is important to all. Below are practices to best guard your data on social media.
- Investigate your personal security settings. Many apps and websites offer users controls limiting what information is available about you publicly and privately. They also have other security like encryption and multi-step verification. Still others let you download the information they collect on you as Facebook now does. Check your options and choose those that enhance your security goals and comfort levels, including options available for your browser.
- Use secure internet connections. Using public Wi-Fi means you have no control over its security and your information is constantly under threat. Whenever possible, wait until your network is secure before sending anything, particularly data for online purchases. Consider getting a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for secure connections wherever you are.
- Be aware of what you post online. Anything and everything you post may be permanent, even if you delete it. Even though it may be gone from your social media accounts, it’s not removed from accounts who receive the post and is available to any hacker who may be trolling your accounts.
- Check before you click. Hackers are always looking for a way to appear as something other than what they are, including your friends and other contacts. Fake profiles, enticing information and offers targeting your interests need caution. Always check where a link is sending you before you commit, paying particular attention to how it’s spelled. Hackers love making the slightest change to a friend’s name or to websites you frequent, redirecting you to their traps.
- Keep antivirus and security software updated. No matter how protected your social media settings, a secured device is at the heart of it all.