More than half of the world’s population has a social media account. And with all that sharing, posting, and personal information being passed between family and friends, it’s not surprising that social media accounts are prime targets for hackers.
Whether you’re a super sharer or just a passive lurker, no social media account is immune to hackers trying to gain access to your family photos and information in order to exploit your relationships for their own personal gain. If you’re a user of Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) or some other social media platform, be aware of the ways you can help reduce your risk of being hacked.
- Use strong, unique passwords and change them often. If you’re using the same password for your email, Facebook and Amazon accounts, you will increase the damage if you get hacked. Don’t use the names of your children and their birthdays--or worse, something like Password 1234; instead create a unique password for every login and change it often. If you worry about not being able to remember your password, consider a secure password manager rather than writing your passwords in a notebook or making them something easy for you to remember.
- Make your account private. Many social media platforms allow you the option of making your profile and posts visible only to your friends. Choosing this setting can keep hackers from seeing what you’re posting, which can help protect your privacy.
- Choose your friends wisely. Think critically about all friend and follow requests you receive, and if you don’t know the person or their reason for connecting to you, just say no. Requests from people you don’t know can signal fake accounts designed to gather information for cybercrimes, or simply an account created to spread false information.
- Don’t check in when you’re checked out. Nothing says “my house is unguarded” more than sharing your vacation photos or your out-of-town location while you’re gone. Instead, consider waiting until you get home to post those great beach photos.
- What happens on the internet stays on the internet. Even if your profile is set to private or you’re using an app with “disappearing” posts like Snapchat, always remember that what you post can be saved by others via screenshot. If you don’t want something out there forever, don’t post it.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Don’t engage with people via DMs or Facebook messenger that you don’t know, and don’t click on links sent to you by strangers. Also—be cautious about online fun “quizzes” which may be designed to steal your personally identifiable information.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for get-rich quick schemes, romance cons and long-lost loved ones asking for some money for an “emergency.” Ask friends and family to call or text you if they need something from you rather than reach out via social media.
- Review your tags. Check out your settings to see if others can tag you without your consent. Hackers often steal someone’s account and tag all that person’s friends in posts to get things seen by those peoples’ connections, increasing the likelihood of the scam’s success.
- Protect yourself and your devices. Make sure to perform operating system updates. Not only do these increase the performance of your device, but many of them are designed to combat security threats and known vulnerabilities to your phone, laptop, or tablet. And once you’ve updated your operating system, be sure to check the security settings on your social media accounts to ensure that none of your settings have changed during the update.
- Don’t use your work email for personal reasons. Avoid using your work-assigned email for your social media accounts and online shopping. Even if your job doesn’t have information security policies strictly prohibiting it, entering your work email into non-business-related internet sites could increase vulnerabilities for your work network via spear phishing and other targeted scams.
Social media is here to stay, so we must remain vigilant in protecting ourselves when we use it.
As a reminder, Chambers Bank will never publish investment advice via our social media accounts, nor will our ownership or management provide financial or investment advice on their personal accounts. If you see something on an account that appears to be out of character for the account, be skeptical and verify the validity of the post by texting or calling the person at a number you trust, NOT by sending a message on social media. In the meantime, refrain from clicking on links, sending messages, liking, commenting or sharing, all of which increases your vulnerability to scams and may trick others into thinking the post is legitimate.