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Your Guide to Safe Social Media Practices

by Blog

We don’t have private lives anymore. While to many of us, including this writer, it’s unfortunate, it’s the truth of the modern times we live in. Social media has been with us since the early 2000’s with Myspace, but it has become increasingly prevalent in our lives and society with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram being a part of the average American’s everyday lives. You can reach old friends, let loose with your opinions on the latest music, TV and movies, and show pictures of everything from your pets to your kids to your food. However, just because it’s “ours” doesn’t mean it’s private, or that it cannot wreak havoc in real life, or as the youth says “IRL”. As a business owner, employee, partner, etc, your social media could be a great tool to expand your business or professional life, but it can also tank you before you know it.

Let’s start with the most obvious. The saying goes “The internet is forever”. As children we are taught never put anything in writing you wouldn’t want read or you wouldn’t say in public. People get to comfortable on social media, and it tends to bite back, hard. Take for instance, you have a rough day at work. In the past, you would go home, vent your frustration to a friend or significant other, and that is the end of that. Now days, people go and post their various gripes and groans on their social media. They oftentimes

to this without realizing these posts are visible to the world, including their employers and customers. People have lost business, lost jobs, and even lost their entire businesses by airing out the dirty internal laundry for the world to see.

People also forget that these pages are representations of them to the world, including people they engage in enterprise with. It was always commonplace to never talk religion and politics at the table to avoid offending or alienating people at best, or at worst, starting a massive argument. Take these manners to social media. If you own a business, understand that people viewing your page may hire you or buy from you. Why would you allow your opinion online to cost you money, when you would never do such a thing in real life.

Now that that’s out of the way, lets talk the safety issues. You must always make sure your pages on these apps, your personal ones, are set to private. This ensures that only people you accept can see your posts. This has nothing to do with your opinions, but with your safety, both online and in life. While many people use things like random password generators at work, in their personal life, it’s usually life events, pets, maiden names and the like that make up your passwords. Chances are, your social media is littered with this information. Yes, the picture of your daughter Mya on her birthday may seem completely innocuous. However, if your password is your daughters name and her birthday, you just gave hackers the keys to the kingdom.

Remember in movies like the Home Alone franchise when burglars are roaming the streets to see who they could rob while the homeowners took a vacation? They don’t even need to do drivebys in the days of social media. All it takes is perusing through someone’s page as they tell the world “We’re going to Florida for a week!” or posting pictures while on the go in some exotic locale. Now these criminals have just been given an invitation “Hey steal from us, we aren’t even home right now!”

For your business, be aware of the pictures you post. Showing off that new office? Well, be sure to check that you aren’t taking pictures of proprietary secrets, such as that new tech you have or that white board filled with equations. Showing off the new shipment is great, however, showing pictures of your back door or alerting the world as to what shipping or

maintenance company you use can be costly. This is how social engineers do their jobs, which is to steal from you. They crash an account with brute force, using passwords groomed from your social media. They see that you use FedEx, so they go online, buy a Fedex uniform (which is far easier than you think), then head to the backdoor and get let in by some unsuspecting individual. These methods can be used to get anything from access to emails, to access to bank accounts. In fact, most malware and ransomware attacks come from information gleaned from either data dumps or social media accounts.

They can gain names, like knowing that someone named (for the sake of argument) Linda Hamilton works in accounts receivable giving them a name to use as a referral. While your security may not be willing to abide “the account lady’s friend”, they may be more keen to give access to “Linda Hamilton’s nephew”, and next thing you know, they are in that secure area instead of bringing aunt Linda a cake.

How do you protect yourself? It’s nowhere near as hard as you may think. This is as simple as impulse control in some cases. Angry at your boss or coworker, keep it to yourself, or tell a friend offline. Make sure you set your pages to private. Keep any sensitive information that you use for password off of your page. Yes, you are proud that you got to go to that

vacation in Tahiti, just please wait till you get home to show off those pictures. Stage your photo ops at work, don’t just take pictures of whatever you please and post them. Use the 2FA provided by many of these apps so if someone is trying to breach your account, you know and can keep them out. Change your passwords regularly.

It’s ok to be active on social media, it’s ok to have a private life. It’s also important to be vigilant about your online presence, for your own security as well as your piece of mind.