Lately, I’ve come across a few articles in the news about social media identity fraud. Take for instance the story about a prominent short-seller who discovered (unbeknownst to him) that he appeared to have tweeted about Herbalife Ltd. Having your social media accounts hacked can do irreparable damage to your company and reputation. However, before you deactivate your Facebook account, know that there are some simple things you can do to keep your information safe. In no particular order, here are five effective ways to make your social media accounts and identity “hacker-proof.”
1. Include social media icons on your website
Including social media icons on your website not only encourages visitors to connect with you on social media, but also helps them to know which social media accounts are authentically yours. If a fraudster sets up a social media account with name similar to yours, there is less likely to be confusion of which account is authentic. Also remember to archive all your social media activity as evidence of what you have, or have not been posting.
2. Keep your passwords up to par
Strong passwords are one of the best tools you have against identity thieves. Use a combination of numbers, letters, upper and lower case. Also use different passwords for email, social media, and financial sites so that if one password is hacked, your other sites are not compromised. To keep track of your passwords, consider downloading them onto a password protected and keyword encrypted thumb drive and put it somewhere safe. You may also want to look into sites that can randomly generate and fill in passwords for you such as 1Password. This goes without saying, but never write your passwords down on a sticky note or anyplace easily accessible to others!
3. Keep personal information personal
Sharing personal information on social media may seem safe, after all, your network is made up of your close friends, family, and professional contacts. However, anytime you post your personal information on the internet you are taking a risk. Even something as simple as your birthdate, pet’s name, and city of residence can potentially be used against you, especially if you commonly use this information in your passwords. A good rule of thumb is when in doubt, don’t share.
Also, don’t assume that certain social networks are more secure than others. People often assume that it’s safe to share their information on Linkedin because they’re mainly connected to working professionals. But suprisingly, Linkedin has the highest identity-fraud rate of any social networking site at 10%. Review the privacy settings on all your social media sites so you know exactly what people can see on your profile.
4. Logout of social media accounts when not in use
This one is a no-brainer, but still worth mentioning. The easiest way for someone to access your accounts is through you! It only takes a second for someone to slip onto your computer/smartphone/tablet and gain access to your information. When you’re done using your account, take a quick second to logout. Also be sure to delete any social media accounts that you no longer use, as they could contain personal information.
5. Protect your Smartphone
Your smartphone is essentially a mini computer, so the same rules apply. You should password protect your homescreen as the first and most basic level of protection. Be sure to have software on your phone that allows you to remotely wipe the device if it is lost or stolen. Only download apps from trusted sources (i.e. apps in the Apple Store and Google Play), and install security/antivirus software. Also be sure to logout of your social media accounts on your phone when not in use.
Share with us below, how do you keep your social media accounts safe?