Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Telegram, YouTube… they all form part of our daily lives. Who doesn’t use at least one of them? Today I’m going to give you 5 tips to keep your profile safe on social media.
More than 4.388 billion people access the internet every day worldwide, and of these 3.484 billion use social networks. This means that 79,39% of them use social networks.
Within this volume you will not be surprised to know that data thefts occur on networks every day. Check if your personal data has been stolen at any point here.
What are the most used social networks?
The TOP 5 social networks with the largest number of users are:
- Facebook: 2.271 billion users
- YouTube: 1.9 billion users
- WhatsApp: 1.5 billion users
- Facebook Messenger: 1.3 billion users
- WeChat: 1.083 billion users
One outstanding member on this list is WeChat. Practically all its users are Chinese, yet it is among the social networks with the most users worldwide.
The country with the highest penetration of social networks among its population is the United Arab Emirates, with 99% penetration! In other words, it is the country with the highest volume of active users of social networks compared to the total population. The first 6 countries on this list are from Asia, with the first European country in 10th position (Sweden), while Spain occupies 29th position with 60% penetration among its population.
5 Tips to keep your profile safe on social media
Not everything that glitters is gold. Social networks have opened up a veritable Pandora’s box regarding data security, loss of privacy, virus propagation, victims of identity theft, etc.
Here are 5 tips to keep your profile safe when using social networks and avoid any possible identity fraud:
1. Use a strong password and activate 2-Step Verification
Less than a month ago, a family member had his identity stolen on Instagram. Using this false profile, they began to publish photos of promotions for sunglasses with a 90% discount. It was published constantly on his Instagram feed, with as many as 5 or 6 posts per day!
When he realised what was happening and after looking into the matter on the internet, he saw that many people have had their identities stolen in the same way. The recommendation he received was to change his password to a much stronger one, given that the previous password had been compromised – as well as reporting the situation, of course.
The best thing is to use long passwords containing upper and lower case, symbols and numbers, with a total of more than 12 characters. Try to avoid using words found in the dictionary that can easily be detected by robots, which manage to crack passwords using brute-force attacks. A highly recommended approach is to use a password consisting of a phrase with at least 3 words to ensure it is stronger.
Here are some examples of the time it takes to crack typical passwords :
- abc1234: 1 millisecond
- Toby2019: 4 seconds
- 28121999Mc: 2 hours
- Champions-League: 3 days
- WKTSLE1&: 47 years
- Idrinktea4timesaday: 102.133.402.054.325.310 centuries
Another additional step which is also highly recommended is the activation of 2-Step Verification. After entering your password you receive a text message or other means of authentication to verify that it is your account. That way, even if someone manages to steal your password they can’t access your account.
2. Configure privacy settings
Everyone needs to configure the privacy settings of their social network accounts right from the outset. Adequate configuration of the options in your profile can help to ensure that only the people you want to can view your posts and your data. Doing so considerably minimises the risk of disclosing information that may be misused by third parties.
Internet articles commonly use photos from people’s social networks without their permission and for gainful purposes, whether minors or adults. Adequate use of privacy settings can help to prevent this from happening.
For example, on Facebook in order to configure the different privacy options you need to go to the Privacy option in the Settings. Then you can go through the different options and enable or select the ones that best suit the profile you wish to have.
3. Keep control over your content
This may seem like common sense, but not everyone applies this maxim on social networks. You shouldn’t post anything and everything on social networks: you have to be aware of this and be careful of what you publish. If you reveal too much information it may be used by third parties. For example, someone might break into your house in the knowledge that you aren’t home because you’ve uploaded a photo having a coffee as you watch the sun go down in Ibiza…
When hiring new employees, many companies analyse candidates’ social networks for information on their personal life, political opinions, lifestyle, etc. The things you think only your friends can see may also be in full view of your future boss and may affect your reputation.
It’s also important to remember that once you upload any information to social networks, you lose control over it. You can delete it yourself and ask the social network to delete it, but it will always leave a trail on the internet and anyone who has viewed it can publish it themselves.
4. Beware of attractive offers and suspicious links
Who hasn’t received the typical Facebook scam of a draw giving away 150 €500 gift cards for a clothing brand? Many people are fooled into these types of scams because they seem so enticing, but all they want is to obtain your personal data, requiring you to fill in a form with all your details and invite friends to click on the link. This link then quickly goes viral, while someone behind the scenes is getting the personal data of thousands of people quickly and free of charge which they then sell to third parties for commercial purposes.
If there’s a draw or offer which makes you think “this can’t be true” it probably isn’t: don’t fall into the trap and don’t click on it. In many cases, clicking on these links results in silent installation of malware on your computer which can affect its performance.
5. Protect your digital identity: beware of identity theft
Have you ever searched for the profile of a famous singer or actor only to find there are 4 or 5 profiles that are practically identical? Sometimes these other profiles even have thousands of followers. That’s not because the star has gone crazy and has various profiles; somebody is taking advantage of their image to gain followers, using the account to commit crimes or making a profit at their expense.
On many occasions, the cyberthief may pretend they are the other person and ask for donations or deposits in a bank account for an event. These acts are classed as crimes under the Criminal Code.
It’s so easy to create a profile on social networks; you simply use an email address to create a profile and then use photographs of the person to trick other users.
If you detect any cases of identity theft, you should report them to the corresponding law enforcement agencies.