If you’re like most women around our age these days, you spend at least some time every week (if not hours every day!) browsing through and posting on social media networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
In fact, statistically, it’s unlikely that you’re not on these types of sites, since, according to data released by the Pew Research Center in its Social Media Update 2016, nearly 79 percent of Americans who have access to the internet now use Facebook, while another 32 percent are on Instagram, 31 percent are on Pinterest, and 24 percent are on Twitter.
However, while there are plenty of great reasons to use these networking hubs, including staying in touch with family and friends, furthering your career, and building a following, it is also important to protect your security when online.
Due to the fact that social media sites attract such huge numbers of people, they also draw the interest of increasing numbers of cybercriminals. Unfortunately Facebook and other sites can be rife with viral infections, scams, and more, so you need to be careful when you use them. Read on for three key ways that you can increase your safety when on networking sites today.
1. Install Security Software
One of the best steps to take is to install maximum security software on your computer. This will help to stop nasty viruses, malware, ransomware, and the like from being able to enter your systems.
There are plenty of different software options available, so compare products carefully when you purchase to find the one that best suits your needs. It is a good idea to buy security software that offers advanced antivirus, anti-spam, anti-malware and anti-ransomware protection, and guards against identity theft and maintains your privacy.
As well, look for a product that:
- Blocks phishing emails and potentially harmful websites
- Safeguards your personal information on social networking sites
- Identifies data-stealing apps
- Includes a password manager for your various online accounts
2. Understand the Types of Scams Commonly Used by Cybercriminals
Next, it is also important to educate yourself about the types of scams that are commonly used by cybercriminals so that you know what to look out for. As an example, “clickjacking” is a strategy regularly used by hackers on social media sites like Facebook.
This tactic involves digital thieves posting a scandalous, yet fake “news” item online that is so sensational that it generates lots of interests and clicks. The issue for unsuspecting people clicking on these links though, is that they will be redirected to a link that actually has malicious code embedded into it.
This code makes it look like you have “favorited” or “Liked” the story, which misleads the social media site it was posted on into showing this link to your friends online, and showcasing the story as a more popular one than it is. In turn, the hackers who uploaded it will receive more advertising revenue because they have scammed lots of links. If you happen to see, therefore, headlines on social media sites which appear very strange or sensational, try to maintain a high level of skepticism about the authenticity of the content.
A scam known as “pharming” is also very common on social media sites. Pharming is a phishing attack that has cybercriminals presenting users with links to fake versions of familiar, popular websites such as blogs, digital publications, and the like.
Unfortunately, if you click on these links and get taken to the fake version of a website that you think is real, you will unknowingly input your login information and other personal details. As a result, hackers will get access to your data and be able to hijack your accounts. The best way to avoid this happening is to always directly type in the URL of any site you want to visit that requires a login.
3. Think Before You Post Online
Lastly, you need to be aware that cybercriminals commonly mine social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like to find out personal information about people that they have posted online. You must think before you upload posts that contain any sort of personal data about yourself or your family, as this can give hackers plenty of ammunition with which to crack the passwords on your financial and other accounts, and to otherwise try and assume your identity.
To stop this from happening, try to never publicly post information such as your birth date or that of your loved ones, names of your children or pets, your home town, your mother’s maiden name, your lucky numbers, or any other information that makes up part of your login information to things or that will allow people to guess your address or other private data.