We hear an awful lot about online privacy and cyber security these days and for good reason.
According to Sam Cook of comparitech.com: “Active social media users are 30% more likely to be affected by identity fraud; account holders on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram are the most likely victims, with a 46% higher risk.”
Despite all the talk and some efforts from large tech companies, like Apple’s iOS 14.5 privacy focused update, there may never be enough privacy on social media unless we take on the responsibility of protecting our information ourselves.
Luckily there are plenty of ways we can do that with minimal effort.
MAKE YOUR ACCOUNTS PRIVATE
The first and most important thing to do is change your account settings from public to private.
It’s alarming how many people still have their social accounts set to public (around 50%) and this may be because a lot of people are unaware of how or why they should be private.
Become your own gatekeeper.
Making your accounts private is the easiest way to ensure that anyone who wants to interact with you is at least a friend or follower.
It’s important to only accept friend requests from people you know. If you get a duplicate request from someone you are already friends with the chances are their account has been hacked and duplicated – DO NOT ACCEPT it!
Whenever you post or share something on social media, always choose “friends only” when given the option.
SHARE LESS PERSONAL INFORMATION
Setting your accounts to private is not a cure-all. If you continue to share too many details about yourself, there may not be strong enough privacy settings to protect you from those who mean you harm.
Keep your personal information private.
Do you know the term “TMI”? Well, that applies 10 fold to social media.
Your birthday does not need to be posted on your social accounts. I know it’s nice to get all those happy birthday wall posts (many from people you haven’t talked to in years) but if you’re concerned about information security (aka InfoSec), having your birthday included in your accounts falls into the TMI category.
The same goes for details like where you were born. No one needs to know this information so don’t post it.
The more information you post about yourself the more likely a hacker or scammer will take an interest in you because you’re an easier target.
When in doubt, don’t share anything online that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with any random person walking down the street.
STOP TAKING ONLINE QUIZZES
Online quizzes are famous for asking questions that may seem like a fun little game but can be designed to mine information about you.
- Your spouse’s name.
- How many siblings do you have?
- Your favourite colour.
- Where your tattoos are.
- Your first pets name.
These are all things that quizzes tend to ask about and they’re all things that help hackers guess your online passwords.
Posting the last thing you ate + your street name tells you what your superhero name would be while telling scammers where you like to eat and where you live.
If that doesn’t sound like a fair trade to you, you’re right.
When it comes to online quizzes, just don’t do them.
Donna Parent of IdentifyForce.com puts it this way:
“Enhancing your social media privacy and being selective with the quizzes you take can help protect you from identity theft.”
KEEP YOUR LOCATION TO YOURSELF
Avoid checking in to places when you’re out to eat or on a vacation. All this does is tell people you are not home and for how long.
You should wait to share your experience of the meal or trip when you’re safely back at home or skip sharing it at all (don’t worry, not that many people care).
A post like this seems harmless but this information could cause you a lot of grief both on and offline.
If you have your phone with you your location is already known by more people than you might think. Stop making it easier to be tracked by feeding the lions.
BUSINESS ACCOUNT PRIVACY
If you have a social media business account, you are not immune from hackers and spammers.
In fact, you may be their #1 target.
Business accounts are public so the person overseeing the account needs to be extra vigilant and on the lookout for strange messages, requests for information or tempting lucrative business proposals.
As a consumer, the best thing to remember is that a business page will never send you a friend request. Business accounts are unable to send friend requests so if you ever get one, never accept it. Report it if you have the option.
Most larger businesses have a check mark or badge beside their name to indicate that their page has been verified. Hackers and spammers are famous for creating an online account that closely mimics a reputable business page. We are Erie Mutual know all too well about this! Imitation is the best form of flattery right?
Scammers will scan through businesses posts and contests, replicate one and then send friend requests to that same businesses followers.
Those of us who receive the requests are sometimes (understandably) tricked into connecting or communicating with the fake account. Some of these scammers know what they’re doing and come across as legit to the untrained eye.
If you’ve been notified that you won a contest, take a closer look, many of these are scams.
Never click any links that are sent to you from business accounts or any other account you don’t immediately recognize as someone you know. If you do, it’s important to never, EVER provide personal information like birth dates, social insurance numbers or credit card information as this will make you an easy target of identity theft.
KEEP YOUR FRIENDS LIST TIGHT
It’s best to treat your online presence like your offline presence.
Do you tell your elementary school friends that you haven’t seen in decades about your personal life outside of social media?
Probably not. So why should they know personal details about you now?
Clean up your friends list regularly and keep it relevant to your current life.
Haven’t seen or talked to someone in years with no desire or plans to do so soon? Unfriend them.
In the end, sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and others can be a good way to connect and stay in touch when used well, but they can also make you a prime target for hackers and identity thieves if you’re not being careful.
Erie Mutual Insurance proudly serves the commercial insurance, farm insurance, home insurance and auto insurance needs of members throughout Southern Ontario including Haldimand, Niagara and Hamilton.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.
Please contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.