Demystifying Social Media Security

20 Nov 2014 Ian Kelly    Last updated: 25 Nov 2014

How much personal information are you sharing unknowingly on Social Media? And to what sort of people? Arm yourself with the knowledge to be able to protect you and your family from potential harm.

With so many users worldwide, social media sites are an attractive target for scams and they can expose much of your personal information far beyond your group of friends. Users need to remember that these sites are funded by advertisers, which means that your personal information is what they are after and sites like Facebook are more than wiling to cooperate in sharing this with them for a premium. These can appear as innoccuous fun tools disguised to gather information such as 'Create a Royal Wedding guest name' until you realise that information such as your children's names, birthdates, pet's name and street name now reside permanently on the internet. These innocent details are in many cases what forms all or part of many user's passwords.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc. all have security and privacy settings which allow you to choose what information you share and to whom, but when was the last time you checked yours? If you have never looked I would advise doing so as the default settings can be left quite open.

 

Facebook

Facebook Privacy settings allow you to set who is able to see any posts made by you, photos you are tagged in, events you are going to and pages you like. A Privacy Check-up tool has been introduced to give you a quick overview as to who has access, this would be a good starting point.
Security settings control how your account is accessed, when you last changed your password and notifications as to when it has been accessed, options to browse Facebook via https will aid security on public WiFi and restrictions on recognised devices.
Apps are third-party providers which have at some point asked you for access to your account, contacts, timeline and possibly photos. Since you are (mostly unwittingly) handing over quite a bit of personal information to other parties with no idea as to how they secure data, this would be one of the important areas to ensure there is minimal access, if any.
Further information on FaceBook privacy can be found here:
www.informationweek.com
www.networkworld.com

Twitter

The public nature of Twitter makes it more difficult to control privacy so the risks are inherently greater when sharing any kind of personal information, therefore the best advice is to always keep this to a minimum. Simply tweeting your location or posting on Foursquare for example, doesn’t just tell people where you are, it also tells them you are not at home. Beware also of phishing (pronounced ‘fishing’) links either in adverts asking to confirm your details, or by direct message by way of an unknown web link. To increase your security and minimise hacking risk, as always a strong password which is frequently updated is best.
Further information on securing your Twitter network can be found here:
bizsecurity.about.com
support.twitter.com

Others

Some interesting Stats:
25% of users on Facebook don’t bother with any kind of privacy control (Source: AllTwitter)
More than 1million websites have integrated with Facebook in various ways. (Source: Uberly)
250million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day. (Source: Jeff Bullas)
As of 2012 17 billion location-tagged posts and check-ins were logged (Source: Gizmodo)
32% of all internet users are using Twitter (Source: Marketing Land)
Twitter’s advertising revenue for the first half of 2014 was $563m (Source: DMNews)
Crimes involving Twitter rose from 677 in 2011 to 1291 in 2013 in England and Wales
Crimes involving Facebook rose from 9917 in 2011 to 13,019 in 2013 (Source: DailyMail)

 

This information was up to date at time of publishing. Security protocols and information for any social media network are subject to continual change and update, please check with the provider for the latest security information.

The opinions, views or comments in this article do not necessarily reflect any views or policies of NICVA.
ian.kelly@nicva.org's picture
by Ian Kelly

Systems Administrator

[email protected]

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