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Tips for Using Social Media Responsibly

By: Lindsay McKay

Published On: December 7, 2021

Tips for Using Social Media Responsibly

Social media is often overlooked when it comes to information security and privacy. With so many people wanting to be influencers the amount of detailed private information being shared non-stop is quite worrisome. Or, for others, it has just become second nature to take a picture of exactly what you are doing, checking in online, and for how long you will be there. The consequences can span from something minor like account lockout to more major like losing your job or getting your house robbed while you are on vacation like this couple in 2014. 

Threats 

What you post online can not only affect you personally, but also your IRL family and friends, online social network, and even the company you work for. Some of the threats you may face online include: 

  • Clickjacking: the malicious practice of manipulating a website user's activity by concealing hyperlinks beneath legitimate clickable content, thereby causing the user to perform actions of which they are unaware.  
  • Identify theft: social media offers a great return on investment for cybercriminals, with access to your phone number, email address, names, and other personal information that you are willingly giving away plus all the other personal information that they can harvest including home address, passwords, and financial information. 
  • Cyberstalking: using social media, email, or other telecommunications technologies to threaten, harass or stalk users. According to Norton’s “Cyber Safety Insights 2021 Report”, 11% of consumers have deleted their social media account to protect their online privacy. 
  • Traditional network threats: these threats include fake profiles, bots, social media account takeovers, identity clone attacks, information or location leaks. For example, Zerofox found that corporate social media account takeover attempts happen nearly 30 times per year on average for every company, or 3 times a month. 

Just reading possible threats doesn’t mean much to most people, so I will provide a few true incidents in the next section. 

Incidents  

Like I have mentioned above, consequences can range from a mild inconvenience to immediate danger. Let’s look at a few incidents including romance scams that fraud people out of thousands of dollars, getting cyberstalked, and fake profiles.  

Romance scams have taken record dollars in 2020, a reported loss of $304 million, up 50% from 2019. A recent example of the scammer getting caught occurred in Ontario last month, November 2021. After a two-year investigation police finally uncovered a romance scam involving 21 victims. The first victim that contacted police in October 2019 almost lost $50,000 to the fraudster.  

Another example from November of this year is a case of cyberstalking. A man pleaded guilty to stalking British actress Stephanie Davis by bombarding her with messages via social media, delivering letters and gifts, and loitering outside her home. Davis suffered panic attacks due to this cyberstalking and harassment.  

The last example is about the Ukrainian journalist Valeria Kovtun. Kovtun had your identity stolen on Instagram and Facebook. Someone had used her pictures, captions, and bio to create a fake profile. This person was posting stories, responding to comments and messages as if they were Kovtun. Instagram immediately removed the fake profile once she reported it, but the weird thing was that all her profiles were private on all platforms meaning someone that she had approved to follow her created the fake profile. You don’t always know whom to trust online.  

Tips 

Here is a handful of simple tips you can follow to be a responsible social media user, for extra education look into taking some basic online cybersecurity training such as an A+ certification course 

  • Use privacy settings and review them regularly 
  • Don’t post private information online and be aware of your surroundings, you never know what could get caught in a reflection 
  • Google yourself to see what others can see and have posted with your name and information, especially important when looking for a job 
  • Check it you have been compromised already on haveibeenpwned.com 
  • Enable multi-factor authentication 
  • Don’t click on random links someone has posted in any comment section, if you really want to go to that link google it yourself instead of clicking the link in the comment 
  • Cleanout connections, both who you follow and who follows you, any name you don’t recognize it might be smart to make them unfollow you or block them.  

It may seem like a lot of extra work to be secure online, but it is really only a little time out of your day or one extra moment before posting the picture that can keep you and others safe. It is worth it.  

Looking to learn more? Check out other entry-level courses including Fundamentals+ training or Security+ training. Not a beginner? The Network+ certification is a more intermediate-level course while CySA+ training is more advanced and focuses on behavioural analysis.

 

Disclaimer

The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog.

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