by Chris Wood, TUPD Senior Support Analyst
Social media has become one of the most popular uses of the internet today. Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit are just a few of the popular platforms available in cyber space. It is hard to go anywhere in public and not see a person on their phone Facebooking or Tweeting. It has become such a casual activity in our lives that sometimes we get careless and expose ourselves to the risks of social networking. Identity theft, loss of personal information and data, cyberstalking and stalking are just some of the risks that one can fall victim to through social media platforms.
One way to minimize the risks is to start with the basics, a secure password. Using passwords like “1234” or “password” can leave your account exposed. (See blog post "Passwords 101") Be certain to create a unique password for each social media account you have. Be sure to log off of your social media session when you are finished. If your password is cached or the application logs on automatically, anyone with access to that machine can access your accounts.
Don’t fall for click bait links or surveys - they can often contain malware or spyware. Often times these links are harvesting data for advertising and other commercial purposes. The information can just as easily be mined by a hacker. Facebook, Twitter, Google and the most popular platforms now offer two factor authentication. Take advantage of this extra layer of security. It can be tempting to broadcast your out of town travel, but that information can be used by would-be thieves as an opportune time to break in to your residence. It may be better to post your photos after your trip as opposed to giving real time updates while you’re out of town. Be careful about images and information that you post on online dating sites. Screen captures can allow a personal image you delete to live on in perpetuity on sites you may not have intended to have it displayed. While some people use social media as a measure of popularity, having a thousand friends can increase the risk of your personal information being exposed. Depending on your security settings you could be letting friends of friends see your posts and profiles. Unless you are promoting a business, you should limit your friends list to people that you really know. The same caution you would use when you meet someone in person should be used when choosing who you allow into your online life. The keyboard and screen may give a false sense of security. Learn more about using social networks safely by viewing our security awareness training “Safe Social Networks” at https://tulane.learnerhall.com/Training/Safe_Social_Networks_(Tulane_University)/index.html?module=ssn