Social Networking sites have become more and more popular among teenagers and young adults, simply for the reason that it connects people from across the world with the same interests or a mutual friend. Though this is the main purpose of social networking sites, some may go a step further by allowing users to establish business connections or even host their business through the site..
While many social networking sites have their differences, they all generally allow a user to provide personal information and communication mechanisms such as instant messaging, chat rooms and email which enables connection between other users and you. Most sites allow you to browse for people with certain characteristics while with others, require that you would have had to have been introduced to the person before the connection is made.
When connecting with a stranger through social networking, the internet gives a sense of anonymity and because of the lack of physical interaction it creates a false sense of security.
It is advised by the Guyana National CIRT, that some amount of caution be taken when providing information on the internet. As such, we recommend the following tips to enhance your security while social networking:
- Remember that the internet is a public resource- Only post information you are comfortable with others seeing. This includes information and photos in your profile and in blogs and other forums. Also, once you post information online, you cannot retract it. Even if you remove the information from a site, saved or cached versions may still exist on other people's machines.
- Keep personal information personal- Do not post information that would make you vulnerable, such as your address or information about your schedule or routine. If your connections post information about you, make sure the combined information is not more than you would be comfortable with strangers knowing. Also be considerate when posting information, including photos, about your loved ones, friends or business partners..
- Know and manage your Friends- The internet makes it easy for people to misrepresent their identities and motives. Consider limiting the people who are allowed to contact you on these sites. If you interact with people you do not know, be cautious about meeting them in person and about the amount of information you reveal or agreeing to them.
- Be skeptical- Don't believe everything you read online. People may post false or misleading information about various topics, including their own identities. This is not necessarily done with malicious intent; it could be unintentional, an exaggeration, or a joke. Take appropriate precautions, though, and try to verify the authenticity of any information before taking any action.
- Privacy and security settings exist for a reason- Take advantage of a site's privacy settings. The default settings for some sites may allow anyone to see your profile, but you can customize your settings to restrict access to only certain people. There is still a risk that private information could be exposed despite these restrictions, so don't post anything that you wouldn't want the public to see. Sites may change their options periodically, so review your security and privacy settings regularly to make sure that your choices are still appropriate.
- Be wary of third-party applications- Third-party applications may provide entertainment or functionality, but use caution when deciding which applications to enable. Avoid applications that seem suspicious, and modify your settings to limit the amount of information the applications can access.
- Use strong passwords- Protect your account with passwords that cannot easily be guessed. If your password is compromised, someone else may be able to access your account and pretend to be you.
- Use different passwords- Remember to use different passwords for each social media account. You can use variations of the same password or have a method of building a password you can remember for each social media account.
- Check privacy policies- Some sites may share information such as email addresses or user preferences with other companies. This may lead to an increase in spam. Also, try to locate the policy for handling referrals to make sure that you do not unintentionally sign your friends up for spam. Some sites will continue to send email messages to anyone you refer until they join.
- Keep your web browser and apps up to date- Install app updates so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available, you should enable it.
- Use and maintain anti-virus software- Anti-virus software helps protect your computer against known viruses, so you may be able to detect and remove the virus before it can do any damage. Because attackers are continually writing new viruses, it is important to keep your definitions up to date.
- Password protect your device- Password protecting your device is the first line of defense and in some cases the only defense you may have if your device is stolen or just happens to get into the wrong hands.
- Information Technology Services (2016, May 02). 10 Tips to Stay Safe on Social Media. Retrieved form: https://carleton.ca/its/2016/social-media-safety/
- Uganda National Computer Emergency Response Team. Be Safe on Social Networking Sites. Retrieved from: https://cert.ug/content/be-safe-social-networking-sites