Social Media and CyberSecurity: Be Social and Secure

It’s true. Almost as many people use Facebook as live in the entire country of China.

As reported by the Washington Post, by late 2014, the number of monthly active Facebook users exceeded 1.35 billion. That’s billion with a B.

Needless to say, social media is popular. Especially when you factor in that most Facebook users are also Instagram users. And Twitter. Snapchat. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Google Plus+. The list goes on.

But, because of social media’s wide popularity, many people underscore the importance of understanding the potential risks associated with it. A person’s online activities could inadvertently expose excessive amounts of personal information, like identity, relationships, location and affiliations.

It can also lead you, your personal computers and your business vulnerable. Sera-Brynn recently worked an incident response case where a client’s computer was hacked and our forensic investigation uncovered that it was due to a link that a team member clicked on from Facebook.

We’re not suggesting – and personally not planning – to stop using social media. But we do hope you’ll implement these best cybersecurity habits to make for a safer social experience.

1. Once something is posted online to a social networking site, it can spread. Fast. There’s no amount of effort the will erase it, and unfortunately, the Internet does not forget. Post only what you would want out there.

2. Understand that there are people who are not who they say they are online and will take advantage of you if afforded the opportunity. Be aware – not beware – of who you accept as friends.

3. Don’t post anything you would be embarrassed to see on the evening news. Period.

4. Do not accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know. Have any doubts? Verify their identities through your own research.

5. Do not post identifiable information. Cyber criminals can and will use this information against you, or even worse, sell it to someone on the black market.

6. Be cautious about the images you post. Images posted over periods of time can tell a story about who you are, where you shop, what you enjoy. This information can be used in ways you may not be thinking of now.

7. Avoid using third-party applications, and if it’s necessary, don’t allow them to access your social networking accounts, friend list or address books. All those APPS you want to put on your Facebook profile that request permission before you can activate them? That’s what we’re talking about.

8. The more pictures you are tagged in, the easier it is to locate you and accurately construct a network of your friends, family and associates. In your profile, opt out of being tag-able.

9. The more social media sites you’re connected to, the broader your attack surface and overall risk becomes. That’s not to say you need to limit your social networking. It does mean you should be even more vigilant.

10. Securely configure your social networking accounts to minimize who has access to your personal information.