How to Stay Safe While Being Social

The use of social media continues to rise. Data from the Digital 2020 Global digital overview published on the 30th January 2020 shows that active social media users have passed the 3.8 billion mark. This number has increased by more than 9 percent (321 million new users) since this time last year.

Nearly 60 percent of the world’s population is already online. Trends suggest that more than half of the world’s total population will use social media by the middle of this year.

Whilst people are furloughed or working from home due to Covid-19 social media use is likely to increase. So how can you stay safe while being social.

Many people happily share their private information online, building robust libraries that can easily become a one-stop goldmine for fraudsters.

It’s not exactly the intention everyone has when they sign up, as the whole point of Facebook is to share your life with your friends. It hooks us into a global community and the experience does depend on us making certain privacy sacrifices.

So how do you balance being social with staying safe?

Stay Safe While Being Social

On Facebook alone, the average person shares 13 pieces of personal information ranging from a fairly innocent name/email combo, all the way to mothers maiden name and home address.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but those 13 pieces have the power to unravel your life within minutes.

Even checking in at home or a favorite location has become the norm, helping to create a multi-dimensional online identity. The details are available to anyone who cares to look, whether they’re a friend keeping in the loop, or someone with a much darker agenda.

Facebook check-in. NOt checking in can help you Stay Safe While Being Social

The problem is, you just don’t know who’s looking at your profile or why. And it’s not just a problem for the individual. Social engineering is a major tactic of cyber criminals looking to attack businesses.

For example, someone could try accessing your email account by clicking the ‘Forgot password’ link. The email service follows its security rules and asks identifying questions like ‘which high school did you go to? What is your pet’s name?’ Unfortunately, the most common identifying checks and answers are probably available on Facebook.

Once your email address is compromised, hackers can use that to break into other services and go through, clicking ‘Reset Password’ on site after site, account after account – they have full access to your email, so there’s nothing stopping them from emptying your bank accounts – or worse.

10 Ways To Secure Your Facebook Without Missing Out on the Fun

Facebook is the social media channel most likely to contain information used by hackers. To stay safe while being social start with our top 10 ways to secure Facebook.

Facebook Security Settings. Getting these settings right can help you Stay Safe While Being Social
  1. Familiarise yourself with the Facebook security settings
  2. Begin by previewing your profile as others see it
  3. Review what should and should not be visible to strangers
  4. Consider only sharing partial details, like birth day and month, but not the year
  5. Only ever ‘Friend’ people you know and trust
  6. Be wary of duplicate or ‘odd’ friend behaviour – hackers will often clone or hack a friend’s profile and initiate an urgent and uncharacteristic request for money
  7. Update your past privacy settings too
  8. Set default future sharing to ‘friends only’
  9. Regularly review ‘where you are logged in’ within your security settings
  10. Think carefully about what information you share, not just on your profile but all over the network.

The Threat From Quizes

A new favourite of the fraudster is the ‘fun’ quiz.

You see a fun quiz on Facebook or another social media platform. What’s the harm, you figure? You answer a few questions and prove how well you know a friend. Or you take a short personality test to match with a character from your favorite TV show.

A bug on the exposed data of over 120 million users who took personality quizzes on Facebook
A bug on the exposed data of over 120 million users who took personality quizzes on Facebook.

These quizzes ask seemingly silly or meaningless questions, but scammers can use that information for nefarious purposes. For example, some quizzes collect personal information by asking questions like: “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What is the name of the street you grew up on?”  These are common security questions for banking and credit card accounts. Sharing this information can lead to your accounts being hacked, and your personal and financial information being stolen.

Not all social media quizzes are data collection scams, but do be careful about what you share online.

Other networks

Whilst we’ve focused on Facebook, and this is the network where most information is shared, you should follow the same rules across all of social media.