I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received Facebook friend requests from people I don’t know or from people that have no mutual friends with me. Or the number of times that I’ve been friend requested by people I’m already friends with. They’ve been hacked!
There are many easy ways to be safe online, in any capacity whether it’s social media, online purchasing, and even just email.
- First off, keep your profile PRIVATE! If you are not a public official or personality, why do you want the whole world knowing your business, seeing your private family photos, and knowing what you do on a daily basis? Go and Google yourself. See what Google knows about you. You might be surprised. Social media outlets have the ability to be private, so only people you approve or are friends with can see your postings. Check Facebook privacy basics here.
- If your account is already private, make sure you are accepting friend requests, follow requests, or +1 from people you know! Go through your friends list, how many of these people do you actually know? Delete them if you don’t!
- LinkedIn is geared towards professionals and business, so you might not want a private LinkedIn profile, but there options to maintain some degree of privacy.
- Don’t share your passwords. Also, don’t use the same password for all accounts. Let’s face it. The majority of us pay our bills online; we shop online, and probably even pay our taxes online. Keep a list (somewhere safe) of passwords, and make them difficult! Include numbers, special characters and capital letters.
- Speaking of passwords. You know how when you set up a new account and you’re asked to answer security questions? Provide fake answers. Why? Well, have you ever noticed that the majority of these Facebook quizzes and “tell me about yourself” posts are geared towards some of the most common questions? Such as your home city, street you grew up on, favorite vacation spot; the list goes on and on. Don’t answer these quizzes, they’re click bait! When you answer these questions, you’re giving hackers insight which can be used to access your accounts! Why do you need to tell your friends all about yourself, shouldn’t they know already?
- Check out the Apps you’ve allowed on your social media accounts. Remove any that you don’t use, and limit the information you allow them to see.
- Be careful what you click on. Sadly, too many times I’ve opened a news story (from an actual news source) only to have “You’ve been selected to win…” pop up in my window. Don’t click it! Back out or close the window.
- Don’t open emails that look funny or are from people you don’t know. Almost every store today asks for an email address for discounts or rewards points. I have a separate email account which I use for things like that. I also give out a fake phone number.
- Rather than give your credit card information out online, consider using PayPal, or Apple Pay. Link it to a bank account or a credit card that doesn’t have a ton of available funds.
In addition to these safety precautions, it’s wise to have a good anti-virus or spyware program installed on your computer.