Using Social Media Safely

There are very few individuals these days who do not use at least one social media platform for personal use or to promote their business.

Due to this there is an onus on us all to be careful in relation to how much information we share across these platforms. Divulging too much information can give hackers the upper hand when it comes to trying to access our accounts to steal our private data and raid our financial accounts.

A March 2020 survey conducted by Lab42 on individuals in countries including Australia, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, United States and Singapore found that over 50% of social media profiles have been set to public, which means anyone can view the information shared on profiles.  

There are significant privacy and security implications to sharing information on social media sites, especially when profiles are set to “Public”. Oversharing of information online puts personal safety, property, and private data at risk and do not think for one minute that you cannot be a victim of an attack or are unlikely to be targeted. 

It is important to recognize that sharing too much information will put your in a precarious position and may give cybercriminals enough pieces of the jigsaw to be able to gain access to your accounts, and not just your social media account. We advise that you do the following in order to keep yourself safe while you use social media:

  • Create Strong, Unique Passwords: The best way of doing this is to use a password management solution. It will ensure that every account has a different and unique password and will also give you options to have passwords automatically filled in when you log in to a site. Bitwarden offers an excellent secure password generation feature to do just that. 
  • Enable 2FA: You can never have enough protection in place to keep yourself and your data safe while you use social media, and one of the best ways of doing this is enabling two-factor authentication. This is where you are asked to provide extra credentials, such as a PIN Code or security question, before you are permitted to access your account. It is one additional step when you log in, but it will greatly improve security.
  • Review Privacy Settings: You should make a habit of performing an audit of your privacy settings on all of your accounts from time to time. This means checking who can see your posts and other online activities. The smartest thing to do is to set your accounts to private, so that only people in your friend list can view your content. Also consider creating restricted lists for people you do not know personally to limit what they can see. 
  • Double Check Your Contacts List: This is important and will allow you to remove anyone that you are no longer in contact with. While you may be doing everything possible to keep your accounts safe, the same may not be true for your contacts. 

Some worrying statistics revealed in the report include:

  • 51% have shared vacation photos publicly while on vacation. This lets burglars know that you are not at home. 
  • 25% have publicly shared captioned images of their children or pets and also used their names as password to access their online accounts. 
  • 20% have published images of their locality and given an indication of their home address.

While social media platforms are a brilliant way of staying in touch with all of your friends and family, particularly if you live away from them, you need to keep yourself safe. There are plenty of people out there in cyberspace that are trying to exploit information shared on social media accounts.  


Author: Maria Perez