Social media security and why it's important

Have your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts ever been hacked? Have you heard of a friend, family member or loved one who fell for a “Get rich quick” crypto scam or lost access to their account from clicking on a link sent to them via DM? If yes, then you might want to read this article.

We live in a world dominated by social media. People now use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., in greater numbers than they did a decade ago. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of these platforms to steal personal information and commit fraud on a wide-scale level. Cybercrime is a growing problem worldwide and causes businesses to lose billions each year. According to the FBI, it is estimated that a total of between $445 and $605 billion was lost in 2017 because of cyberattacks alone. It’s important to secure your social media accounts because they contain sensitive data such as usernames, passwords, email addresses, phone numbers, credit card details, and other personal information. If you don’t take proper precautions, hackers could gain access to your account and steal your identity or, even worse, cause financial damage.

Here are 5 crucial steps to staying safe on social media:

1. Use strong and unique passwords across all your accounts

    When protecting our data, we often overlook using strong passwords. The creation of secure passwords is crucial when accessing various social media accounts, especially those relating to financial transactions or accounts containing personal information. Passwords that are strong and complex ensure that no one else can guess them. Additionally, they prevent cybercriminals from accessing your account and stealing your data. Using upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and special characters is key to creating a strong password. It is strongly advised to not reuse the same password across several websites or accounts and to update your account password every six months to a year.

    According to Statista.com, just by having the following included in your password, it would take a hacker's computer 34000 years to crack:

    • A password that is at least twelve characters long.
    • Includes at least one upper case letter.
    • Includes a number.
    • Includes a special character/symbol.

    2. Set up two-factor authentication.

      Two-factor authentication is seen as one of the most secure methods of encryption. Most popular social media platforms provide the option to enable this type of authentication within their account security settings. Enabling two-step authentication guarantees that the only way you can log in to your account is by entering the One Time Pin (OTP) sent to your preferred phone number or email address. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a great way to prevent unauthorised access to your social media accounts. 2FA provides additional security benefits such as increasing fraud detection capabilities, providing a second layer of security and helping to reduce time-consuming passwords. However, 2FA has its limitations. For example, it can be slow and requires users to take extra steps when logging into their account from another device or browser. It can also be time-consuming having to wait for your OTP to be sent to you. If you want to take your security measures one step further, you can go as far as installing a handy tool Google developed called Google Authenticator, which makes use of 2FA.

      Steps for enabling 2FA on some of the most popular social media networking services have been listed below:

      Facebook

      • Open the Facebook app on your device.
      • Go to your Security and Login Settings.
      • Scroll down to use two-factor authentication and click Edit.
      • Choose the security method you want to add and follow the on-screen instructions.

      Instagram

      • Open the Instagram app on your device.
      • Tap on the 'profile icon' in the bottom right to go to your profile page.
      • Tap on the three lines in the top right.
      • Then, tap on the 'settings' icon.
      • Tap on 'security' and then scroll down and tap 'two-factor authentication'.
      • Tap the slider next to the authentication app, then tap 'set up manually'.

      Twitter

      • Launch the Twitter app from your Home screen.
      • Tap the profile button on the top left of your screen.
      • Tap Settings and privacy.
      • Tap Security and account access.
      • Tap Security.
      • Tap Two-factor authentication.

      3. Watch out for email phishing scams and dodgy links

        Phishing is the process of sending messages that appear to be coming from a legitimate source, such as a bank or service provider, with the intent of stealing people's information. Links or attachments in these messages usually lead to websites where hackers collect your sensitive information. You can prevent this by ensuring you always check the following:

        • Check the email address sending the message to verify its legitimacy.
        • Watch out for bad grammar or spelling mistakes.
        • Do not click on dodgy hyperlinks.
        • Don't open attachments in an email sent from an untrustworthy address.

        For more info on phishing and the different types, we’ve written a blog on 5 common phishing attacks and how to identify them, which you can check out here.

        4. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is

          One of the most prevalent scams to hit social media platforms like Instagram by storm are crypto investment scams. Not only do they steal money from you but also manage to hack your account and impersonate you in an attempt to hack your followers. Hackers do this by creating multiple fake accounts or bot accounts on social media pretending to be real people and starting to gain a following to have better credibility. They then proceed to DM unaware social media goers with messages like: “Are you interested in making the investment of a lifetime?” or “Have you heard of Crypto mining?” What follows are a series of messages constructed in a way to either get you to invest, click on a dodgy link and hack your account or both. The best way to prevent this from happening is by being selective about who your friends/followers are, and not just accepting random friend/follow requests online. You can also set up security measures within the messaging features of most social media applications that prevent people who aren't your friends/followers from sending you a message without your permission.

          5. Install a trusted Anti-Virus program on your devices

            There are thousands of free antivirus programs out there. We’d recommend installing one onto all your devices as it has been shown to provide great security and protection for your devices and prevents you from accidentally installing malware, ransomware, trojan horses and viruses unintentionally.

            The bottom line

            Social media is an amazing tool we can use to connect, inspire, communicate and captivate. There are so many ways social networking has helped shape who we are today. We need to remind ourselves that as long as there are platforms like these for us to connect, share and engage on, there will always be those looking to take advantage. We shouldn't be afraid to use and enjoy these platforms because of hackers or scam artists, but rather exercise caution when it comes to who and how we interact online.

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            Article by
            Myles C

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