The strands of social media & the digital world have paved their way into more parts of our lives than ever before, and our privacy is at stake. People are often targeted with phishing and other malicious cyberattacks resulting in asset/data/identity theft. Seeing the exponentially growing numbers of social media crimes, it’s crucial to protect your social media accounts. How often the social media accounts hacked? Although it’s a generalized question, the short answer is clear: way too often. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Snapchat have become sort of digital billboards.

With over 4.48 Billion social media users, the platforms have become ghetto for hackers to advance their interests. Social media plays an eminent role in our lives, allowing us to share pictures, videos, connect with our loved ones. It also allows us to get real-time updates on what’s happening around the world. So how horrendous would it be if someone gets hold of our social media accounts? 

That’s why, GUVI has partnered with top cybersecurity experts, and has come up with a cheat sheet on how to safeguard your social media accounts. In wake of the ethical awareness week, we are hoping that this article will help you take preventive measures to save your privacy. Further, we will also offer you some additional tips to secure your personal information & data concerning phone/cloud storage. if you are planning to advance your career in Cybersecurity & Ethical Hacking, GUVI offers a number of courses. You can check them out here. You can also harbor more critical information on how to secure your data.

1. Use a strong password & password manager

Google/Apple and every website now and then can’t stress enough why it’s so crucial to have a strong password. People often just use one weak password across all of their social media accounts, as it makes our login process faster & easier. Nevertheless, if your password is weak, or you are using the same password across multiple accounts, sorry, but your account’s safety is already compromised. 

In case you have a problem managing your password, you can take the help of google/apple’s password manager, which suggests as well as retrieve the password when you trying to log in. They safeguard your passwords with two-factor authentication and use your face, or Fingerprint to ensure the safety of your account. They suggest strong passwords that include numbers, alphabets, upper and lower case letters, and special characters. With recent iOS updates, your device will inform you if certain passwords are a part of a data leak and you might need to change them. Also ensure that you have a unique password for every account, no matter how hard it is to manage, though it isn’t. 

2. Discard Third-party unused applications

Yes! It’s curious to know which GOT character you might closely resemble by giving all your personal information to clickbait websites, but please don’t do this. Those apps require your permission to fetch your data & even post from your account. But although you delete those cringe posts, these apps still have all the permission they need for data theft. What you should do is take control of your social media inventory and see if these apps are still active. For all social media, you need to visit their application section and delete the ones which you don’t need or don’t use. 

Make sure you are okay with the information these apps are fetching, as these applications are gateways for hackers to inject their malicious malware. In short, minimize using your social media account to log in to third-party websites. 

3. Multi-factor Authentitcation

Imagine a hacker demystified your username, password and even cracked the secret question and now he can access your account. But if you have enabled more layers, like two-factor authentication where you get an OTP on your phone every time you’d like to sign into a new unknown device: the situation becomes more complicated for the hackers. Now google/Microsoft offers their security layer applications such as Google/outlook authenticator, which are required to approve your request before signing into a new device. Most of the finance apps such as Binance & others require third-party authenticator apps to sign in. Ergo they add an extra security layer to safeguard your assets. If you are seriously concerned about your privacy and personal information, you should consider applying multi-factor authentication to protect your social media accounts. 

Do you think you have a knack for cybersecurity & network security? Read the blog featuring must-have cybersecurity certifications.

4. Update your privacy settings

Every social media platform lets you decide how much you want to share. They give you the option to limit the audience, but so many people are still unaware of these privacy settings. Every user needs to explore, try and overview these settings. If you intend to go viral with your cute puppy or twee observation of things, then you are out of luck on this one. But if you wanna have a personal experience, you should limit who can see your post, profile pictures, who can follow you, or send you a message. 

Check your privacy settings often, as they are prone to sudden and unexpected updates from time to time.

5. Know your userbase/friends/followers

On Twitter, it might be difficult to follow, but you can go through all your friends or followers on Facebook & Instagram. Make sure you are only friends with people whom you know personally and those you trust, frequently review your friend list to limit who sees your posts and what you have been sharing. 

Social media platforms are bombarded with catfish accounts that seem real but have malicious intent. You can observe and analyze their post patterns to identify objectionable accounts and remove them. 

6. Don’t click shortned links unless you are sure about them.

One word — phishing. “The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.” Best to avoid those like the hellfire unless it’s really your grandma who is sending you a link through a reputable site. Recently sensationalized NSO’s Pegasus Spyware and other machinery grades tools rely on these shortened links to get in the system but that’s a viable possibility when one is a person of interest.

7. “The Receipts”

It’s high time you introduce yourself to the concept of Internet receipts. We aren’t talking about translucent little slips of paper itemizing ATM withdrawal or expenditure. We are talking about proof, evidence, confirmation, screenshots of a private conversation, or a heated forum argument. All it takes is one enterprising individual with a basic knowledge of how to take a screenshot & publicize it to ruin your reputation. You can also face lawsuits if it doesn’t fall under community guidelines.

Always remember that all your social media activity is permanent. Anyone can access it, be it your family, law enforcement, or potential employers, regardless of your privacy settings. So ensure that you don’t play your internet time recklessly or post anything you wouldn’t want anyone to see.

8. Switch to VPN, Private-Browsers

The biggest obstacles for hackers are multi-factor authentication and encryption. At least for those who want to be a wee bit safer on the vast internet that is available to us. Especially if you find yourself in need of connecting to a public airport, cafe, or library network, always make sure you are using VPN. Else, you will end up with system infiltrators.

You can also switch to BRAVE or Tor Project browsers, that claim to respect your privacy and protect your social media accounts against surveillance, censorship, and Data trafficking.

The bottom line is Social Media & Internet is a great way to connect to like-minded people and keep in touch with family & friends. Tho it’s a double-edged sword. Things you share with your posts, tweets, articles hold the potential to compromise your reputation, privacy, and safety. Better to safe, than sorry.

Found this article useful? You can check up with our array of Cybersecurity & Ethical courses. Some of the best cybersecurity professionals have designed these courses for you to advance your career as a “White Hat.”