With the recent data breaches of Facebook, Whatsapp, and other social media applications, it is hard to believe that our data is safe out there in the world of the internet.
For those of you who are not clear on the details, many reports suggest that the data of around 50 million Facebook users were left exposed as a result of a vulnerability in their security system. This breach also exposed Spotify and Instagram accounts, as users had logged into these applications using Facebook details. Despite this breach, a large number of users still remained loyal to the platform, not deleting their accounts.
As for Whatsapp, 1 billion users were advised to update their app as its developers reported a security flaw that allowed the software to be used for the installation of spyware.
If two of the largest social media platforms are not completely safe to use in terms of data privacy, how can we expect the smaller ones to be?
Whilst it is not currently possible to protect yourself entirely from data breaches and cyber attacks, you can take some precautions to increase the safety and security of your accounts.
If you would like to know how? Keep reading.
#1. Change your account to private
If your account is private, people that want to access your profile in order to view your photos, personal information, and online content will have to send you a request. Only once you accept this request can they view your profile and contact you directly. If your account is public, anyone can view your account and all of the information that comes with it. Many personal details such as your address, telephone number, and email address can be easily discovered from your online social media accounts. Think about who you would want to have access to this information.
#2. Use strong passwords
This is the first line of defense against hackers. Don’t use passwords that are easy to guess such as your name or your birthday. Try to incorporate numbers, capital letters, and symbols. You must also make sure that your passwords are all different for each account. Whilst we don’t all have super memory, it is necessary to keep our accounts safe. If need be, you can use a password manager in order to store all of your passwords. This way, you only need to remember the password for the password manager.
#3. Enable multi-factor authentication
This includes adding a security question, additional code, or another device to secure your account. If you choose to add another device, when you log into your social media account, it will send a message to the device that you have chosen to add to the system. This is usually in the form of a code. Then you will be asked to input this code into the device that you are trying to log in from to complete the authentication. This makes your account considerably more secure, as hackers would need access to two of your devices. They would also need to know more information about you if you choose the security question as additional protection.
#4. Trust your gut
If it looks suspicious, it probably is. Malware can be sent through messages as an attachment. The messages tend to say things like ‘have you seen what they are saying about you?’ or ‘is this photo of you?’ alongside a link. Fraudulent adverts tend to entice users to fill in their personal information by telling them that they have won a large sum of money or a reward of some kind. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you have won a free iPad, nobody wins something for nothing. Learn to recognize the signs of a fraudulent message or advert on social media.
#5. Close accounts that you don’t use
If there is an old email, a video streaming, or a social media account that you don’t use, delete them. Hackers can still target these accounts. If they manage, this may allow them to access your larger, more frequently used accounts. Reduce the target, reduce the risk.
#6. Think about what you share online
When you post something online, it can’t be removed. You might think that you can delete it, but in reality, anything that you post online can be retrieved. Be responsible with what you share. Remember that your employers, family members, and enemies will be able to see your content. If you don’t want them to see something, in particular, don’t post it.
#7. Get a VPN
Yes, free wifi at a cafe is great, but connecting to the network without knowing anything about the security of it is highly risky. A VPN is a virtual private network, which encrypts data and creates a secure connection to the internet. This way you can be reassured that your device and data are safe and won’t be targeted.
#8. Clear your search history
Your search history contains cookies, previous websites that you have visited which can be used to serve you targeted ads and can even point to your personal data. Clear your search history once in a while in order to erase all of this information and prevent it from being stored. This way you can also forget about the curiosities that arise in your 3 am thoughts such as whether pigeons have eyelashes or not.
There are a number of things we can be doing to keep our accounts safe. Whilst these precautions can be a pain, they are worth it to keep your account and personal information secure on the internet and social media.
Don’t let yourself be one of them.