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How to keep your Social Networking Accounts Secure

Posted by Geraldine Hunt on Mon, Mar 7th, 2016

Most IT pros are a savvy lot when it comes to the internet. However Network & System administrators have to deal with co-workers who are not as IT savvy and risk infecting the network by their unsafe browsing and social media habits.  

Social Networks targeted by scammers and spammers.

For all desk based workers regardless of where you work or your role, technology is increasingly integrated into our daily lives. Because of our daily behaviour and decisions social media is assuming an increasingly prominent channel of communication. We all do it - snapchatting silly photos, checking into hotels on Facebook, vining videos of pets, tweeting our appreciation of the return of ‘House of Cards’.  As these platforms become ingrained in our  everyday lifes, they are more likely to be targeted by scammers trying to target us online.

Some network security pointers to remember:

There's no such thing as Private - the internet is like an elephant, it never forgets. While spoken words leave little trace written words endure in the online environment forever.  Yes forever! Whatever you post, tweet, update, share even if it's deleted has the potential to be captured by someone, somewhere, without your knowledge. Scammers follow the money. 

Why are social media sites so attractive target for cybercriminals? Because that’s where the people (and data) are. Data is valuable. With millions of users, who are sharing a lot of information, social networks provide large numbers of potential victims and data. Within hours stolen data will be sold in online black markets.  Online black markets are a growing underground economy. Apart from the security cost, potential cost of a data breach, the privacy cost there is also the opportunity cost, work time wasted that could have been spent on something more productive. That’s a lot of costs to consider!  

With "friends" like these, who needs enemies?

We are all very quick to post, tweet and share practically everything with practically anyone. This fondness for sharing and not always knowing who the recipient is can be dangerous. The more information we post, the larger the reserve of information available to scammers. This over sharing sets the stage for a compromise - such as password cracking, data theft and more.

Know your Security Settings and Features

It’s really important to know and understand the privacy settings offered by social networking platforms. This includes (the list is not exhaustive) :

  • Public or private?  Most social networks offer privacy as a global setting to make your profile public or private, an on off switch. Keep track of your privacy settings and check them on a regular basis. Do not assume that the default setting will keep you safe.
  • Strong passwords. When it comes to passwords, go back to basics. Use complex passwords. That means a case-sensitive combination of letters, numbers, and special characters--at least eight in total. Do not reuse passwords across your social media platforms, if one is hacked then they all are. This is so obvious but often the thing that people tend to slack on - ignoring the obvious steps is easy to do.
  • If possible, set up two-factor authentication. Facebook and Twitter offer two-factor authentication as an added measure of security for your account. Using two-factor authentication introduces something you have, usually in the form of a randomly generated number or token that can delivered to your phone through SMS or a number generator within the services’ mobile application. This way, if your password is compromised, the thief will need the generated two-factor authentication token before they can login.

This affects business-run accounts too. Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and other social networks will get hacked at an increasing pace resulting in data loss (and the hefty costs associated) as well as reputational damage to your company’s brand.

With more businesses than ever using social networks to promote their brands, the need for advanced security and safeguards is higher than ever. We recommend businesses implement a web filter to prevent the potential download of malware onto the network. Infected or malware laden sites will be blocked thereby protecting your data, your employees and your network.

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