4 Tips To Protect Your Social Media Security

In the past, most people have equated social media security with avoiding trolls, preventing unseemly behavior, and cracking down on fake pages. However, all types of social media can be subject to cybercrimes that involve stealing sensitive information. If you keep key data on your account, your identity and your brand are vulnerable to colossal damage. It's imperative to make your account secure. Here are a few simple things you can do to prevent most threats to your account.

1. Don't Open Suspicious Messages

The most effective protector of your device and the best antivirus program is your common sense. Software is helpful, but your actions and decisions are more important—even the most advanced and powerful antivirus can be rendered powerless by carelessness. Do not open messages from unknown senders. If you do so by mistake, do not follow the links in those messages. Otherwise, you run the danger of launching malware that records passwords. An expert hacker then has the ability to harvest hundreds of passwords (if you're running a business). The hacker may become a de facto administrator of your network. You don't want that. If the message sender looks unsolicited or unfamiliar, delete.

2. Have a Strong Password

If you use a combination of numbers or letters for your social media passwords—especially if they're recognizable as words, names, or dates, scammers will be able to calculate and steal your information easily. Make your password a mix of different numbers and letters, and add in a punctuation mark. Password generators can be helpful, but keep in mind that being online, they're vulnerable themselves—even more so if you store your passwords on their sites.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a straightforward security enhancement that requires you to present two credentials when logging onto an account. The credentials might include a PIN or password, something unique about you (like your fingerprint or facial recognition), or something you possess (like a smart card). The credentials have to be of two different types to ensure security, so two fingerprints wouldn't be considered multi-factor.

So a simple scenario, if you’re logging in to an app like Instagram, might look something like this: You've enabled MFA, so after you type in your username and password, Instagram's authenticator app generates a one-time code that it delivers to your phone via text message. Enter the code, and you're logged in—securely.

3. Access Networks Only From Your Devices

If you're using a public network, it's extremely important that you confine your logins to your own device. Remember internet cafés in the 90s and early 2000s that had rows of computers with one-hour limits? Since most of them were DSL, they were a little safer, even though it's hard to believe that most people logged on to their accounts without a second thought. Now, coffee shops and even co-working areas are vulnerable places. It's not enough to just have protection on your own device; it's vital that you don't log on to anyone else's device for any reason. If you log into a social network on another's account, you could neglect to log off, leaving the page open and accessible to any outsider.

4. Use a Hard-to-Guess Security Answer 

When you register for a new social media account, you usually receive one or a few security questions that will help you access your account if you forget login information. When you decide on the answers, make them as obscure as possible. While it's easier to choose the name of a loved one, your mother's maiden name, or a pet's name, that information might be too accessible to would-be hackers. Try to make the answers hard to guess—better yet, choose the most difficult questions.

Making a small but concerted effort can significantly minimize security threats and decrease the chances of cyberattacks via social media. Try these tips for more peace of mind.