Tips & Advice

Social Media Safety: Do you know who’s watching you?

Presented by Larry Larsen, Director of Cyber Security

Social media has changed the culture of the Internet forever. These days it seems everybody has an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… and the list goes on.

Each site offers wonderful ways to connect with old friends and family, make new friends that share your hobbies, and generally have a good time with people you may never meet.

Websites like Facebook, for instance, let us share fun family vacations and events, post our proudest moments and share our opinions. Although sharing your life's highlights may be a lot of fun, you should be aware of certain risks that may pop up along the way.

SocialMediaToday.com published a great article titled, "The Top 5 Social Media Security Risks You Need to be Aware of", in which they discuss common dangers that will ruin your fun, and threaten your security online and in the real world.

First and foremost, check your account settings on your social media pages and ensure that the only people who can see what you share are your Friends, Connections, or whatever the website calls your personal network.

Hackers love to create fake pages using peoples' names and profile images, to try and trick their networks into "friending" the bad guys, who then have access to a spider web of potential victims. It's dizzying, but productive for the hackers.

The reason the bad guys run these fake profile scams is to collect targets, like you, for app scams, where they send Invites to users encouraging them to download a new app or game to play — usually requiring a credit card.

Once you enter your card to play the fake app or game, the bad guys have it, and the fraud begins. To reduce your risk, I recommend deleting every app and game invite you get, regardless of who sends it.

Never use social media to announce your plans and timing for a family vacation!
I frequently see posts that say,"Only 1 more week until Jamaica!", and while it's natural to be excited about such a trip, we need to remember that it's not just our friends who can see that. Depending on how our friends' pages are secured, their friends might see what we post, and we have no idea who that might include. No sense in telling strangers when your home will be unoccupied for weeks. Do post the pics when you get back, though.

Parents are understandably proud of children and their accomplishments, but be very careful about what you post about your kids. It's unfortunate in today's culture, but we have to be careful about the images and information we share about the kids in our lives. If there is anything in a post you're about to share that can be used to target the child or family, do not share it. Things like a child's hobbies, places they visit, or other personal information can all be exploited.

My family and friends really enjoy interacting on social media, and you should too, but please always remember: lots of people are watching what you post, and a lot of them you will never know.