As we all become more connected through social media, how can we protect our accounts from those who wish to do harm?
“What r u doing in these videos?!”
“lol u famous.”
“Hi. somebody is saying real bad rumors about you here.”
For those with Twitter accounts, these direct messages — coupled with bizarre links — are probably familiar. While it may be tempting to follow these links and see what rumors your frenemy might be spreading about you, doing so will put your personal information at risk.
These direct messages are scams meant to steal personal information through phishing — making a user think they are logging into Facebook, while the scammers are actually stealing data — or commandeering profiles to spread spam.
These and countless other tricks are being used by hackers who see social media as a useful tool to cause mayhem.
Twitter confirmed Friday that they were affected by a massive cyberattack, which left about 250,000 users’ information vulnerable to hackers.
Twitter quickly notified those who were attacked, but not before email addresses, usernames and passwords were compromised.
As we all become more connected through social media — especially on mobile platforms — how can we protect our accounts from those who wish to do harm?
1. If you see a suspicious-looking link, don’t click on it!
This may seem very obvious, but people consistently ignore it. Messages that have a small amount of text (often with misspellings) and include a link asking you to click on it are a red flag. If you are not sure about a link, ask the person directly if they did indeed send the message to you.
This is the best advice: If something looks suspicious, simply delete the message with the questionable content and don’t give it a second thought.
2. Have strong, different passwords for all accounts.
Perhaps one of the most difficult strategies to adopt is having complex and different passwords for all of your online accounts. This can add another barrier to prevent hackers from accessing your information. Passwords should include a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols, and be different for each account.
This may seem like a hassle, but it could make the difference between keeping your information safe and having a complete online-account meltdown. Just ask Mat Honan, a journalist who had has entire digital life jeopardized after hackers gained access to all of his online accounts.
A good tip is to keep a written record of your different passwords in a secure location.
3. Regularly check apps and add-ons.
Check all of the apps and add-ons given access to your social media accounts regularly. Each of these could potentially be an entry-point to your account. Delete apps that you do not use regularly — you may be surprised at how many companies you have given out access to your profiles.
4. Let others know if their account has been compromised.
The most important tip is to be a good digital citizen, and let others know if they have become a victim to hackers.
Recently, several of my Facebook friends began tagging an airline company photo that promised to give away free airline tickets. It included a message from the friend saying how easy it was to claim the tickets — with multiple people tagged in the comments section. I smelled something fishy about the post, so I notified my friends, and they were able to clear it up before any other damage was done.
Do you have any tips to keep your social media profiles secure? Add in the comment section below!
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