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Staying Safe Online, Part 2 of 2: Benefits and Safe Practices on Social Media Platforms

2024-05-25
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In part 1, we provided fundamental cybersecurity information and recommendations from experts to help safeguard your internet-related systems. In part 2, we will focus on some of the common social media privacy issues and how to stay safe. Social media has expanded exponentially over the years with features that easily invite others to follow or participate in a media thread. A massive amount of information is shared voluntarily, including sensitive data stored in the cloud through user activity such as webpage views, purchase history, and tracking cookies. This data can be gathered, categorized, and sold for marketing purposes. In 2021 the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reported that one in four people fell victim to fraud, which originated on social media. Privacy concerns about platforms used for staying in touch, having fun, making friends, or shopping have become a hot topic.

In response to privacy crises, most social networks have introduced some security settings that empower users to safeguard their data, including two-factor authentication, privacy settings, comment filtering, and blocking unwanted accounts. Facebook and Instagram have taken it a step further by offering end-to-end encryption, the ability to disable face recognition, unfriend requests, or hide offensive content. Since there are numerous social media platforms with different security features, the following safety practices will serve as guidance only.

Be smart about your passwords. Use a unique and strong password for each of your accounts. A strong password should be at least 12 characters long and contain a combination of random uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. It should not be tied to your personal information and should avoid using dictionary words. Be mindful about what you share because cybercriminals can use the information you provided or extract from your security questions to figure out your password. Disable location services to retain your privacy. Some web browsers or social media platforms use tracking cookies to monitor your location and collect data. Location-based functions are often turned on by default on some platforms that allow users to physically locate someone’s whereabouts, potentially compromising your safety.

“In this video, we will explore one of the most common and dangerous types of cyberattacks: phishing. Always remember, legitimate websites use secure connections and have a lock icon in the address bar. Now that you’ve identified the phishing attempt, what should you do? Delete the email immediately. Do not click any links or provide any personal information. Remember, staying vigilant and informed is the key to protecting yourself against phishing attacks.” Block suspicious or unfamiliar accounts to prevent potential scammers from obtaining your information. Update profile settings and provide information only if it is mandatory, keeping it as minimal as possible.
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