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7 tips for keeping your data safe on social media

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In today’s hyper-connected digital world, social media is a big part of many people’s lives. In fact, according to the 2018 Yellow Social Media report, about eight in 10 people in Australia now use social media. But with recent global cyber-attacks like WannaCry and Petya, and Facebook’s data scandal hitting the news, many people are feeling nervous about staying on social networks.

From Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest to Instagram and YouTube, social media channels should be a fun space to share, connect, and enjoy – so here are 7 top tips to help you have a safe and positive experience online.

  1. Keep your password confidential

Don’t share your passwords with anyone, especially if it’s for an account linked with your personal identity or finances. The more people who know your password – even if they are people you trust – the higher the chance of your account being breached.

2. Create different passwords for different accounts

It can be very tempting to use the same or a similar password across all your social media channels – but if your details get hacked, a cyber-criminal can test those same codes on various websites, and easily get access to several of your accounts.

If you create unique, complex passwords that are updated regularly, it will make it much harder for hackers to break into your account. Worried about forgetting multiple passwords? Try using a passphrase or a password management app.

  1. Be mindful when using shared devices

If you’re using a public or shared computer, mobile, or tablet, never let the device or web browser store your password. It’s also essential that you never leave your device unattended – and always log out of all your accounts when you’re done. If you forget, most social media and email accounts have an option to log you out of any other devices you may still be signed in on.

  1. Don’t overshare personal details

Be careful not to disclose too many details about your personal life, or those of your family and friends, when using social media, especially with the wider public. In particular, personal identifiable information (PII) such as your ID, home address, phone numbers, holiday itinerary, place of work, family members’ details, bank details or car registration.

Cyber-criminals can use these details to impersonate you online, target you or your family with scams, access your bank accounts and even break into your home while you’re away.

  1. Regularly review your privacy and security settings

Each social media account has slightly different privacy and security settings, which are usually updated on a regular basis – so be sure to check all your accounts’ settings every few months, and make the adjustments you want in order to feel safe online.

Everyone has a different level of privacy that they feel comfortable with online, so choose what’s right for you. From photos of family to details of where you work, only share with the people you know or trust. Your social media accounts should all provide options for you to organise and control who sees your information and posts.

From a security point of view, we recommend enabling features that will detect and alert you of any suspicious activity relating to your accounts. This way, you’ll always know if a breach occurs, and can act quickly, limit access and mitigate the damage in the event your account is hacked. Two-factor authentication for log-in and in-app purchases will also provide you with further protection.

  1. Block and report suspicious accounts

If another account follows you and sends you suspicious links or messages, don’t just ignore it. Block the user and report the account – all social media platforms should have an option for you to alert online administrators. This way, the site can monitor the account and, if needed, remove it, hindering the efforts of cyber-criminals and protecting other users.

  1. Keep an eye out for social media phishing scams

Be very careful when clicking on links in direct messages, posts, and online advertising. Cyber-criminals often use such links to direct you to fraudulent sites where they can phish your personal details, install viruses and ransomware on your device, and conduct other kinds of malicious activity.

If you receive an unsolicited email or message asking for your financial or personal details – often in order to claim a gift or prize – ignore it. If in doubt, do some thorough research before providing any information.

By following these easy tips, you’ll be in a good position to stop online threats while enjoying your time on social media – after all, it should be a fun place to connect with family and friends, worry-free! For an extra level of defence, ESET software can provide you with Anti-phishing protection by testing website links (URLs) against our extensive database of known phishing and other malicious sites. If a match is found, connection to the URL is stopped and a warning alert is displayed.

To protect yourself against a range of sophisticated malware and phishing attacks, download ESET Internet Security for Windows, ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac and ESET Mobile Security for Android.