According to a survey in the United States, 61% of respondents said that they have little to no trust in social media when it comes to protecting their personal information. However, it’s important to note that there is a lot of personal information circulating on the internet, especially on social media platforms.
Here are some cybersecurity habits you can start using to protect yourself from fraudsters and cyberattacks on social media.
1. Create strong passwords
We can’t say it enough: having strong passwords, with complex words, unique for each of your accounts and that don’t contain any information that’s easy to guess about you (like your name, date of birth, etc.), is one of the best cybersecurity habits you can have.
To create a password that’s hard to hack, it should:
- Be at least ten characters long
- Include upper-case and lower-case letters
- Include numbers
- Include special characters (!,@,$,%,&,#, etc.).
Also, it is recommended that you change your passwords at least every two years.
2. Limit how much personal information you share
The less information you share on social media, the more protected your personal information will be. The following information should never be shared:
- Your phone numbers
- Your address
- Your date of birth
- Your partner’s name or your children’s names
- Your social insurance number
- Your passport, driver’s licence or health card numbers
- Your credit card number
- Your policy or file numbers
- Your medical, criminal or financial history
- Any other information that could be used for a security question.
This applies to information that people can see on your profile as well as the information you send in private messages. For example, if you are chatting with a company, such as a financial institution, you should not share any of the above information under any circumstances. The Facebook and Instagram pages for businesses you like are managed by people who, like you, could become victims of cyberattacks. Even your private conversations aren’t safe from the prying eyes of people with malicious intentions. Make sure you use official and secure channels, like phone or secure web platforms for transactions or when making changes to your accounts.
3. Don’t trust connection requests from people you don’t know
Phishing attempts, social engineering and identity theft can sometimes come in the form of a nice person who wants to develop a relationship with you or who is asking for help. Be careful when someone you don’t know tries to contact you through social media, and never share personal information with a stranger, even if it seems like they have good intentions.
4. Don’t use your accounts to log into apps or third-party sites
It might be tempting to save a few minutes by clicking the “sign in with my Facebook account” button when you’re signing up for a new site. But keep in mind that no digital platform is safe from hacking. For example, Amnesty International’s Twitter account was hacked as a result of a flaw in a third-party Twitter application that allowed hackers to get their hands on the information of everyone using the tool1.
5. Watch out for suspicious messages from your friends
Did your best friend or a family member send you a link to a site you’re not familiar with? Did they send you a link with a message written in a language they don’t speak? Their account might have been hacked. The best thing to do is not to click; this can compromise the security of your own account.
6. Lock your smartphone
Smartphones are increasingly being used to browse the web and connect to social media. A 2019 study from CEFRIO (Centre facilitating research and innovation in organizations) showed that almost 50% of Quebecers used their smartphones to access the internet2,. However, if your phone is stolen, it can reveal a lot of information about you if it’s not locked with (again) a strong password. Make sure you always lock all your mobile devices.
Finally, don’t forget that the privacy policies for your favourite social media platforms are updated regularly. That means that, at any moment, what you post there could become their property. Stay vigilant, and think before you share personal information or content on social media.
Want more cybersecurity tips? Read our other articles in the Advice Zone My Security section!
1 Source : https://blog.hootsuite.com/fr/8-conseils-pour-limiter-les-risques-sur-les-medias-sociaux/ (french only)
2 Source : https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1496403/cefrio-statistiques-quebec-2019-acces-internet-web-navigation-telephone-cellulaire-ordinateur-tablette-chiffres (french only)