Continuously toying with a new idea for the technical blog post for several weeks, I couldn’t help but post about “Social media security” finally!
We live in an era where “sharing is caring” and the more we share with our friends and well wishers, the happier we are. Contrast this is to the time, when snail mail was sent and received only in totally sealed envelopes that nobody could see! As times have changed and social media plays a huge role in most of our lives for different reasons, it is but necessary to adopt some safety standards as we share and care.
As an ardent follower of Information security practices I see how simple data sharing can potentially open the doors for invisible hackers. My InfoSec brain is, tuned and wired differently and I see social media broadcasts in a totally different way! This post lists certain vulnerabilities that social media presents and some common ways to avoid it.
Social media risks:
- With digital data(it could be pictures of you, your family, vacations, locations, conversations, where you plan to go, where you had gone, weddings, engagements and basically every alphabet you utter) being constantly recorded by invisible eyes and computers, it is but imperative that we tighten our digital sharing belt. This digital data can be used by different organizations to learn more about a user, and future content that a user sees will be based on his past browsing habits. This is one big vulnerability of social media – the invisible eyes that see and record everything! Data privacy is a myth and once any form of data falls on social media, it can be controlled by anybody else.
Profile pictures on most social media platforms are public, increasing the possibility that they can be downloaded freely and misused by miscreants.
2. Identity theft: Identity theft is a huge social media risk. Stealing somebody’s else’s personal information(which can be done by hacking an email account or following the digital footprints all across the Internet) and using it for one’s own malicious gains is yet another reality.
These might sound like three simple points but they contain a wealth of risks. We next present some of the countermeasures to tackle the social media risks:
- Set all sharing preferences to “private”.
- “Location sharing” across different platforms can be used with care(after all, it is like inviting strangers to our current location)
- It is also advisable to not excessively share pictures of family and small children(it is not difficult for a determined “invisible eye” to draw a line from one social media account to another and steal our personal information)
- In the immediate urge to gain more “followers” or “friends”, it is important to not over share and lose sight of security aspects of life!
- It is always good to use a general profile picture on most social media platforms.
- Last, but not least, it is necessary to use strong passwords which cannot be breached easily. (Having passwords with 123, or birthdays is easy to remember – but even easier to hack into) It is good idea to use a ‘password manager’ to help manage the huge of passwords that are necessary for today’s world.
Even as the world is reeling from yet another ransomware attack, the bottom line when dealing with social media security is “share with care” 🙂
Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.
She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂