Security and privacy concerns within social media platforms have become increasingly important issues, both for parents and students. Social media has become a natural part of many people’s lives. It is a great way to keep up with family and friends and share memories and moments. But is it at the risk of safety?
It is a given that all sorts of individuals prowl social media. Some of them are looking for information that gives them insight into who you are, where you are, and private information you wouldn’t usually share outside of your inner circle. But when you have an adorable video of your little one’s first steps, or a camera shot of your latest brilliant goal or you just had a great lunch with your bestie, should fear of these individuals stop you from posting online?
The answer is ‘No’. You should feel safe to post your activities online with good security practices in place.
Control who sees your posts Privacy and security settings are there for a reason and should be taken seriously. The default setting on many social media sites is to share all information publicly, so change the setting to ‘Friends only’. These settings can also be changed by the provider, which sometimes happens for no explicable reason, so monitor regularly to check that it hasn’t gone back to the default.
*Update privacy and security settings on a laptop or desktop as they show all settings. Options on mobile devices are often restricted.
Password awareness Did you know that ‘123456’ has been the most used password in the world for the past five years? It is followed closely by ‘password’ and ‘qwerty’. Ah! Then there are people who know that ‘123456’ is really easy to crack, so they use ‘12345678’.
Password cracking tools are readily available. So if a password is easy to remember, then it will be reasonably easy to hack. The trick to a good password is to use one that’s easy to remember but hard for others to guess. A strong password should be at least 8 characters long, with one uppercase letter and at least one number or other symbol.
*Avoid using family or pet names even if you do add 1234 after it. Cracks easily.
Would you be OK with your boss seeing what you post?
The internet is forever. Assume that everything you post can never be deleted. As you post, be it a simple comment, a status or a photograph, ask yourself, ‘Am I okay with this being ‘out there’ for the world to see, even in several years’ time? If you’re not, don’t post it.
*When you delete a post, it is still active on the internet, it is just hidden. These posts are able to be retrieved under some circumstances.
Friend or foe? If you get a random friend request or a request from someone you barely know or recognise, don’t click accept. Using social media safely is about connecting with only those you know. The wrong person could use your photos inappropriately, post malicious ware or use your new ‘friendship’ as a way to gather more information about you and your family.
*Check mutual friends and life events to authenticate that someone is who they say they are.
Better to be safe than sorry Make sure you are informed on what to do if you notice something that makes you uncomfortable. Knowing the steps for protecting yourself can help prevent you becoming a victim. In short, take a picture (screenshot) of the post, remove the person from your friends list, block them and report them to the site’s administrator. Take any threats of physical action and violence seriously.
*Harassment and bullying is never an okay form of communication, whether it’s face-to-face or online.
Social media doesn’t need to be feared, but it does need to be used wisely and monitored carefully.