Social Media Security
Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. can be great tools for building community, sharing ideas, and just having fun. However using social media sites comes with a certain risk of being subject to viruses, malware and other malicious code that may harm your computer. So we've collected a handy list of simple tips and tricks to help you in your safe and happy computing endeavors.
Large social sites are naturally a magnet for hackers and are particularly vulnerable because of their use of web applications which are an easy conduit for spreading viruses. Currently most viruses/malware are spread on social websites via what's called 'social engineering' Social engineering simply relies on sloppy practices encouraging clicks, links and attachments of malicious code to friends to spread the virus or the agent of the virus. Fortunately the spread of this miscreant code can be prevented by NOT doing certain things. They are practices that are pretty easy to follow.
- Be choosy about your friends - This is easier said than done. Just because someone sends you a request, doesn't mean you should acccept it. A good rule of thumb is only accept invitations etc. from people you know or someone who has bothered to put a referral name in the invitation. This can weed out a lot of potential ne'er-do-wells.
- Be even choosier about your applications - If you have the ability to decide what apps you run and allow within your social network’s site, be choosy. Do you really need every cutesy app that comes along? Wait for a couple days to see what people (and the media) say about an app before deciding to dive in. If the app has problems, often it’s the early adopters who will find them.
- Turn up the privacy controls: Pretty much all the social networking sites allow you to tune your own privacy controls. Turn those up to “high.” Only allow people in your ring of accepted friends to view your information.
- Be selective about the links you click - When friends send you links to sites, apps, etc, don't just click on them. Hover your mouse over the link, look at it in its entirety, see what data is going to be passed to it, and then decide. You might even cut-and-paste the URL into another browser and go there separately. Often times the links url gives a good indication of its source.
- Log out of other applications and sites - To the extent possible and feasible, don’t run other Web apps while you’re on your social networking site. Shut down your browser completely, re-start it, do your social networking for the day, and then log out.
- Use secondary email accounts - When possible, if you don't use the site for your main forum for communication, use a secondary email account to avoid spam or having your email address hijacked. Once you've verified the authenticity of the other party, you can then let them know to correspond with you outside of the social media site using your primary account. This may seem inconvenient, but there are many instances of hijacked email accounts and this removes the potential for a ton of spam, and makes for a happier and healthier 'inbox'.