With social media taking a front seat in our daily lives, it’s no surprise that we’re in a constant state of connectivity no matter where we are or what we’re doing. A 2019 study done by GlobalWebIndex reported that the average social media user spends 2 hours and 16 minutes each day on social media platforms. While interacting with online content, do you know how to stay cyber safe? Or how to protect your personal information and data? Since October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we have some tips on how to take control of your social media presence and protect yourself.
Monitor your privacy settings:
It’s important to take a look at your current privacy settings and make sure they are actively protecting you and your personal information. Instagram has a “private” privacy setting that only allows users to see your tiny profile picture and any other information you have listed in your bio – this is where your discretion comes in. Never include information you wouldn’t want people to know about you. This includes birthdays, names, locations, occupations and more. Twitter and Facebook also have a private feature that hides your content from being seen by other users on the platforms. Take advantage of these features to protect you and your information from cybercriminals.
Use a private network:
While accessing social media accounts in public places one might not think about the network you’re connected to. Most public places like cafes, libraries, and college campuses all have a free public Wi-Fi network. You and everyone else in that area are sharing that public network, which means other people could possibly see your browsing activity and even access information you don’t want them to see. Using a VPN is the best way to protect and secure your data while connected to public Wi-Fi. A virtual private network creates a private network from this free Internet connection. By hiding your IP address, a VPN will make your online activity virtually untraceable. Purchase and download a VPN that works for you and download it on all of your mobile devices for a safer digital experience.
Improve your password strength:
Every form of social media requires a password when you create user credentials. But do you know what makes a strong password? Try to include 8+ characters, mixing in numbers and letters throughout. Use common sense to avoid using any personal information that someone could find out online (birthdays, age, last name, year, etc.) Keep track of your passwords using a password manager, or behind a locked app that can only be accessed by you. Remember to update and change passwords a couple times a year to ensure you are protecting your accounts and information.
Be cautious with suspicious content/links:
When interacting with content online, it can be easy to fall victim to link scams and other harmful viruses. Anyone can make a social media profile, and therefore lie about who they are, participate in cyberbullying, or might even be looking to steal financial or personal information. Steer clear of suspicious profiles that might follow you, random direct messages that look spam-like or phishy, and even ads that are inappropriate or harmful to you in any way. It’s especially important to take action when we see this type of content. Almost all social media platforms have a block option as well as a “report spam” feature so you can successfully report if the content is not following the platforms guidelines. It is your duty as a digital citizen to keep the Internet a safer place for everyone and that starts with taking action.
Use these helpful tips to enjoy your time on social media, instead of worrying about it. Implement some of these settings onto your devices and always take charge of your online presence – no matter what.
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