It’s 10 p.m.; do you know what’s going on with your Facebook account?
According to data from a number of sources including Facebook, in any given 24-hour span, one billion people will sign into Facebook—600,000 of which are some kind of creepy/stalker type with a desire for your personal information. So how can you protect yourself from these nefarious digital foes? A few simple security measures will ensure that you are not a victim of cyber date-rape: They are…
Logout: Make sure you completely log out of your profile when you’re done social networking. All of us are guilty of hitting that conveniently placed “X” on the browser window that makes the internet go away. Unfortunately you’re still logged in – browser setting may vary – and that means you are more susceptible to an attack on your personal information. Protect yourself and logout when you conclude your activities.
Passwords: Make them complicated and varied. While having a go-to password is a favored practice of those seeking convenience and simplicity, it’s also a hacker’s fantasy concerning security. Your password is the main deterrent from those wishing to gain private data. Put a wrench in their plans by making your password complicated – that means using letters, numbers and symbols, and not using pet names, birthdays or any other easily guessed combinations – and vary your passwords for all of your digital accounts. Also, avoid using the browser function that saves your password. A browser crash could allow your password to be easily viewed, should anyone be watching.
In any given 24-hour span, one billion people will sign into Facebook—600,000 of which are some kind of creepy/stalker type with a desire for your personal information.
Friending: Now comes the cardinal sin of the Facebook community, the one we all find ourselves guilty of: “friending” someone you don’t know. It’s just so easy to accept that friend request, one little click and you and that person are digitally linked for the foreseeable future. Avoid the headache and deny the request if you find yourself muttering, “Who the hell is this?”
According to a study conducted at the University of British Columbia, where researchers designed social bots that mimicked actual profiles and collected personal information, 19.3 percent of 5,053, a selected user sample accepted a friend request with no connection whatsoever. Once the requests were accepted, the bots targeted the users’ friends, with 59.1 percent of the “friends of friends” accepting the bots’ request. Again, these are digital programs with no connection to the users. If the “mutual friends” tally was higher than 10, the bots had an 80 percent penetration rate.
Over the course of the eight-week study, the bots reached a user base of one million profiles and gathered over 250 GB of personal information. Though Facebook has security measures in place, the average user responded to a friend request within three days of receiving it, not nearly enough time for Facebook to do anything about it.
Links: Be weary of links and offers posted to your wall or on friends’ profiles. While it is hard to distinguish between a real offer or link and an imposter, take the extra two minutes and verify if the link or offer was in fact sent by your friend. Or simply visit the website of the brand or company the link refers to. This may seem a little over cautious, but as the proverb goes, better safe than sorry. You never know if a friend has had their account hacked through carelessness, which you can avoid through caution.
The Big Guys: While the personal steps that can be taken should curb any attacks on your profile, the social network has also implemented a couple of new security measures to guard your personal information. The “Trusted Friends” function will permit users to appoint three to five trusted friends – as the name suggests – to be sent the codes required for login, in case a user is locked out due to hacking and their password or profile is altered. The second measure is the introduction of passwords for different third party apps – like Spotify – for Facebook. In the past, the passwords were all linked and signing in was one click away. Now, users can very astutely vary their passwords to beef up their personal security.
While taking these steps will not guarantee your digital security, these measures will certainly slow an intruder down, and with any hope discourage these digital thieves from gathering your personal information.
What security measures do you take on Facebook? Tweet Us @outloudonline
To see Facebook’s latest security measures visit https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-security/national-cybersecurityawareness- month-updates/10150335022240766
To see how-to steps for “Trusted Friends” visit http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=184283684971021
Written by Zach Westall