COVID-19

Cybersecurity and Social Media: 5 Ways to Stay Safe

In 2020, almost everyone is on social media, but are you staying safe? Using social media is fun and useful for staying in touch with out-of-town friends and family (and pretty much everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic), but don’t let your guard down too far. Check out these tips to keep you and your loved ones safe on social media.

Remember – Nothing You Put on the Internet Every Truly Goes Away

You may be saying, “I hit the ‘delete’ button, of course it’s gone!” Wrong. Once you post something, it’s out there forever – whether you hit delete or not. It may not be easily visible to you, but if someone really wants to find it, they can. Especially take this into consideration when posting personal information or photos and things you wouldn’t want current or future employers to see. If you’re questioning whether or not you should post something, don’t.

Be Wary of Scams

Social media is a common place for scammers to make their move. There are a variety of scams that take place over social media, but two of the most common methods are through ads or over private message.

Before purchasing anything from an ad, be sure to check out the company. Visit their social media pages and review posts or comments for anything that makes the company look bad (such as comments saying people never received the items the ordered, etc.). Finding no comments on any social media posts is also suspicious because the company could be deleting negative reviews.  Search the company name on Google and be sure you can find references to them. Check out their BBB (Better Business Bureau) page if one exists and read other reviews to see if they are reputable.

When it comes to private messages on social media, one of the best ways to avoid scams is to only message people you know. Even if you do know the person who messaged you, do not respond to what looks like chain messages or click on any links that you weren’t expecting. If a message looks suspicious, just delete it.

Don’t Connect with Strangers

We mentioned above that you should avoid messaging people you don’t know; same goes for connecting with people you don’t know. Accepting a friend request from a scammer opens the door for them to mislead you into clicking on a malicious link, falling for a sympathy scam, and more. It also gives them easy access to all your posts and any personal information that you share, making you a good target for identify theft and other similar scams.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security to keep your account secure from hackers who are trying to log in with your information. When this setting is enabled, you will enter your username and password as usual, but will then be asked to confirm it’s really you. Methods of verification include but are not limited to: a code texted to you, a code emailed to you, a fingerprint or face scan, or an answer to a “secret question.” Increase the level of login security by using secure passwords such as phrases intermingled with special characters and uppercase letters.

Be Careful What You Post

We touched on this a little above, but be very aware of what you are posting! Not only should you avoid sharing posts that could come back and haunt you, but you should also be careful about what information you share. For instance, the lives of many children nowadays are documented on their parents’ social media. Think about this for a second – when you post a birth announcement, you are telling the world the first, middle, and last name of your child, their full birthdate, their birth place, and more. Throw in mom’s maiden name and dad’s middle name, and a scammer has a lot of the information they need to steal your child’s identity.

Posting too much about where you are and what you’re doing can also make it easy for someone unwanted to find you. Keep personal information, such as your address, personal. Post about places you’re going after you get back (or not at all). Putting your whereabouts on social media tell stalkers where to find you and thieves that you aren’t home.

Helpful Tip!

October is cybersecurity month! If you’re looking for more tips on how to stay safe in today’s constantly evolving tech world, visit Patriot’s learning center blog. We also have helpful information on personal finance, home loans, auto loans, and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Check it out at https://www.patriotfcu.org/blog/category/learning-center-blog/ today!