How to Protect Your Identity on Social Media
Are you doing all that you can to protect your identity online? Learn how to protect your identity on social media.
With 78.2% of the United States population regularly using the internet and social media platforms it’s incredibly important, now more than ever, to stay safe.
Social Media Identity Theft
80% of those over the age of 18 in the U.S. have at least one social media account. Of those of us who have a social media account, we are all guilty of following or friending someone who we may not know.
The danger of this is that you don’t always know everyone’s intentions. Inviting someone into your world means that they can use the information they gather against you.
Social Media identity theft occurs just like other forms of identity theft.
However, in the case of social media, your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft isn’t always determined by the frequency that you post, but the actual content of what you post.
Based off of what you share, identity thieves can easily use the information for fraud and identity theft.
On top of the regular social network breaches that affect your security!
Regardless of the circumstances, here are some tactics you can use to minimize the amount of personal information you share online. And help protect your identity on social media.
How to Protect Your Identity on Social Media
You can protect yourself now on social media by:
Limiting What You Share
Your downfall might just be your temptation to share every aspect of your life on social media.
Cyber-criminals are looking to use your personal information against you. Hackers can use the family photos, pet names, recent purchases, and more you share online as ammunition against you. Why, you ask?
Because it is common for people to use personal things as part of your password or an answer to a security question.
Some major things hackers will look for on your personal profile include:
- Payment information. Cybercriminals will be on the lookout for the types of credit cards you may use or the name of your bank. This is sensitive information that you should never share on social media.
- Personal phone number. If you share your personal phone number on social media or on your social media profile, it can be used against you. Information such as your home address can be accesses through your wireless carrier that is attached to your phone number. Cyber-criminals can then gain access to other personal information such as private accounts using verification processes that require your phone number.
- Home address. Revealing vague information about your neighborhood is generally okay, but posting specific information, like your street name or house number, leaves your door wide open to all criminals, not just cybercriminals.
- High School and/or College information. Most of the time, high school or college names are used as security questions for your accounts. Don’t make this information public on your profiles.
Using Different Passwords and Usernames
Passwords and usernames are things that people often forget about. It is easy to fall into the cycle of using and reusing the same username and passwords for every one of your accounts.
When it comes to usernames, using the same username across the internet leaves you wide open to directed attacks against you. It can also leave the doors open for hackers to easily find your email based off of your username, as they are usually the same or similar.
As for account passwords, always use a different password for each website you are on. When creating your password, make sure to use a combination of words, numbers, upper- and lowercase letters, and special characters. Opt not to use common password elements that include personal information that can easily be guesses.
For keeping track of your passwords, memorizing them is the best thing you can do. You should never write passwords down on any devices. Criminals are constantly looking to hack or steal them to easily access your accounts.
If you don’t feel as though you can memorize them or avoid writing them down, use a secure password manager like LastPass, 1Password, or Keeper. However, make sure to keep in mind that no site is immune from being breached. This means that if someone hacks the site your passwords will also be leaked.
Stop Using Third Party Apps
While on social media, have you ever encountered a promotion for a new game or quiz?
These are created by third-party apps and powered through the social media platform you are using. However, just because they are on the platform does not mean that they are always safe.
Most of the time, playing the game or taking the quiz gives the third party application access to your personal information. This includes name, location, age, gender, friends list, and more.
Keep an Eye Out for Fake Friends
We are certain that you’ve seen this happen once or twice – you are already friends with/following a friend or family member when suddenly you get a new friend/follow request from the same person.
They have the same name, profile photo, and profile information, so you accept. You believe that it must have been a simple mistake. But, in reality, it is a cybercriminal that has created a fake account to now impersonate your loved one.
This account may then message you, starting a normal conversation. However, they have the goal of obtaining personal information about your life as well as theirs.
If you notice a fake account for you or a loved one, bring light to it by announcing it on the platform. State that you did not create a new account and warn others not to accept the friend request.
You then must report the fraudulent account to the social media platform. The platform will then take the necessary steps to deactivate the account.
Update Your Privacy Settings
Social Media platforms are always updating their account settings and terms and conditions. Be sure to stay on top of what you are and are not sharing with the world.
Regardless of which social media platform you are using – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn etc. – be sure that you are keeping important things, like your birthday, current location, workplace, and private.
To learn more about how you can check and update your privacy settings on the social networks you may be on, check out the University of Texas’ informational article by clicking here.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Social media platforms will now offer, and even require, two-factor authentication for its users.
Two-factor authentication is used to add an extra layer of security to your account. This setting requires the user to use a two steps verification process in order to gain access to their account. First, the process requires you to login using your regular username and password. It then sends a verification code to your cell phone number.
This ensures that if a hacker gains access to your account through a weak password, they must pass through an additional layer of security before having free reign.
As society shifts to be more and more online it is extremely important to protect your identity on social media. You must be wary of the cyber-criminals lurking on social platforms. However, by following these examples and steps you can keep yourself, and your loved ones, safe online!