The revelations surrounding the use of personal data from Facebook accounts by external firms raise important questions concerning the protection of personal information. Many see in this scandal an opportunity to review the way they use social media.
Socializing on social networks
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are a practical way to keep in touch with your family and friends and to share news and photos. Often we share a lot of information without giving it much thought and without realizing that certain individuals can use this information to easily learn what they want to know about us.
What you share is up to you!
By default, as on FB for example, the content you post no longer belongs to you once it’s online. So it’s important to determine what you do and don’t want to share, and especially to identify the persons who will have permission to view your photos, your comments, etc.
Cybercriminals use social networks to obtain information on you, such as your place of work, your contacts, the times when you are away from home on business or vacation, your street address, etc. Never mention in your profile your telephone numbers, your email address, your street address, information concerning your job, your trips and travel, or any other personal information.
Before going to far (one click too late)
It’s easy to react to comments, to post photos and to spontaneously give news about your trips, your activities, etc. Before posting any content, ask yourself if the photos you want to share are appropriate. Are you disclosing too much information about yourself or your family?
Are your nice photos geotagged? This option is useful to remember where a photo was taken. However, while practical, geotagging can reveal your street address or tell a cybercriminal that you are away on vacation. This function can be deactivated in your smart phone or digital camera settings.
A friend of a friend…
A person you don’t know makes a “friend request”? You’re better off ignoring him, since you don’t know if this person is who he claims to be.
A hyperlink seems suspicious to you, even though it’s from a friend? Don’t open it, as it may contain malware, be a phishing attack, or transmit spam to all your contacts. And then you find out that the FB account of one of your contacts has been hacked…
When it comes to scamming or stealing, cybercriminals’ creativity knows no bounds. To better protect yourself, adopt good habits:
- Choose the right time when posting something on social media. For example, wait until you’re back from vacation to post your photos and videos of your trip to Cuba.
- Be wary of frivolous applications that require you to connect to your personal account. It may be amusing to know what you would look like if you were of the opposite sex, but this brief moment of fun could transmit personal information that may be used for purposes you are unaware of.
- Avoid using your personal email address for your social media; instead, create a separate email address and a different password to better manage your online chats.
- Never share your username or your password.
- Never disclose banking information, or the name of your bank.
- Always log out before leaving a site, close your browser and empty your cache.
The different social media networks regularly update their privacy policies and their security settings. Read them. Stay informed about changes. They can have significant consequences on your profiles and on the visibility of your content and of your contacts.