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Social Media Safety

Social media allows us to communicate and connect with people online from all over the world. With the array of platforms that make it so easy to engage, it can be common for people to be too trusting. Check out these helpful hints below to learn more about the dangers that can happen, and how you can avoid them.

  • Avoid malicious links & downloads

    Hackers may imitate major news outlets to spread dangerous links, and get you to carelessly click. Here are things to look for before you click.

    • Shocking headlines to links that appear randomly. (ex. “You won’t believe what they just discovered on Mars!”) If you want to know about a certain topic, search on your own terms.
    • Strange usernames or questionable account pictures.
    • The “too good to be true” statements. (ex. “Click here and you can win 1 million dollars!”)

    Don’t always download

    • Clicking on unknown downloads may take you to a website that infects your computer with a “malware” or “virus.”
    • The virus could capture everything you type into your computer including passwords or credit card numbers.

    If you find yourself questioning, don’t click!

    Hackers motives

    Hackers use every trick in the book. They send out links that lead to malicious sites in hopes that you will click and fill in the personal information.

    • Trick you into giving personal information such as account passwords and social security numbers in hopes to steal your identity.
    • Trick you into installing software that will give them control over your computer.
    • Trick you into sending them money

    What to do if you click

    Unfortunately, there are times when our fingers click faster than our brains tell us not to. In these cases, it is important to know what steps to take next.

    • Disconnect your device from the Internet by unplugging the Internet cable.
    • Back up all your files.
    • Have your computer checked for malware either by a professional or do it yourself if capable.
    • Change your online usernames and passwords.
    • Set up a Fraud Alert.
  • Become a password professional

    The stronger the password, the harder it is for hackers.

    • Use a unique password or each of your accounts such as your email or online banking.
    • Using the same password for more than one account can be risky. If someone figures out a password to one account, they could potentially hack several other accounts.

    Information you should never share

    Keep your personal information, personal. The more information you post, the more risk involved.

    • Social Security Number
    • Phone numbers
    • Passwords and PINs
    • Bank account and credit card information
    • State where you were born
      Home address – careful to not post pictures of your home that may include street names or house numbers, because you never know who might see them.
    • Your current location – this can give anyone with bad intentions the ability to track you down.
    • Vacation dates – posting about upcoming vacation dates let viewers know that you will not be home, giving them an opportunity to break in.

    Use your resources

    Privacy settings are there for a reason.

    • If your social network can do the tough work, let them. Learn about and use the privacy and security settings for your social networks.
    • Keep your security software current.
    • Always use the latest virus protection software updates from your security software provider.
  • How it can happen

    Since it is easier for criminals to exploit your natural inclination to trust than it is to discover ways to hack your software, it is common for hackers to appear as someone or something trustworthy.

    • Email from a friend (or so it appears) that includes the following:
      • A link or a download.
      • An urgent message asking you for help.
      • Asking you to donate to their charitable fundraiser or some other cause.
    • Phishing attempts- A phisher sends an email, comment or message that appears to come from a legitimate, popular company, bank, school or institution.
      • The message may notify you as a “winner.”
      • The message may ask you for help.
      • The message may state there is a problem, and ask you to verify specific information.
    • Facebook quizzes:
      • This can be a powerful tool for companies to collect your data and even your money, often in ways you might not notice.
      • Without even realizing, you may be sharing important information (about you or your family), like the hospital/state in which you were born or your date of birth, that may help hackers gain access to other accounts you may have or your identity.
      • Be cautious when asked to click on external links, you never know if they will be legitimate or not.

    Social engineering

    What is it?

    • Social engineering is the practice of obtaining confidential information by manipulation of legitimate users. A social engineer will commonly use the internet to trick a person into revealing sensitive information or getting them to do something that is against typical policies. By this method, social engineers exploit the natural tendency of a person to trust, rather than exploiting computer security holes.
    • Tricking you into divulging bits of personal information (passwords or bank information) in efforts to gain access to your computer or accounts.

    Who are social engineers?

    • A social engineer can be anyone, but typically include those who are in need of money, seek revenge on someone else or want to fulfill some sort of self interest or entertainment.

    Ways to avoid

    • Sharing various details about your personal life on social media can be pieced together and used against you. Stay away from sharing unnecessary information.
    • Slow down – pay close attention to the fine details in emails and messages.
    • Do not provide personal information or information about your company/organization.
    • Update and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls and email filters to reduce the risk of attracting hackers.
    • Never download email attachments from unknown sources.
    • Do your research – if you are unsure if an email request is legitimate, try verifying with the company directly.
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