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You! Yes, You! Are You Safe Online?

  • By joann Nair
  • On January 24, 2019
  • 0 Comments

The Netflix TV Series ‘You’ is great, with almost every episode rated over 8.5 on IMDB. But this isn’t a review! ‘You’ is great because it lays out how bare most of us lay ourselves, online! 

‘You’ follows a bookstore manager who relies on his internet know-how and some rather cunning, even criminal moves to make the woman of his dreams fall in love with him; i.e. he becomes ‘super stalker’.

In the first episode of the series, Beck (the woman) pays for a book she buys with a credit card. Through this interaction, Joe (the man) gets her full name. From there we see his elaborate scheme to be the perfect man for her unfold and it all starts with him Googling her name. We hear Joe’s inside voice as he does this saying, ‘And there you were. Every account set to public. You want to be seen, heard, known.’ A line that describes so many of us on social media today; we’re living private lives in public!

While ‘You’ presents all of this in a romantic and stylish light, the reality is grim. Most of us are putting ourselves out there as targets for all sorts of crime including identity theft, property theft, non-voluntary voyeuristic content and we are also putting those close to us at risk.

That’s why we felt it was high time to talk about staying safe online. Here are some of the biggest risks and how you can mitigate them:

 

You May Unwittingly Invite Trouble

Be careful when you post your location, check-in at places and geo-tag photos & posts. Doing it for important stuff or in public places is great and can enrich social media experiences for you and your friends. But doing it consistently and all the time may leave you open to cyber-criminals figuring out your routine/vulnerabilities. For example, don’t tell everyone you’re on holiday (i.e. no one’s home) or that you’re alone at home. Even if your profile is locked, it’s still not safe. So share, but be responsible when you do.

GPS on mobile phones is useful to track a lost phone or even to reach out to someone in need of assistance. So turning it off altogether is not practical. But do consider turning off automatic geo-tagging of posts and pictures; that way you’re in control of when your posts are tagged and when they’re not.

 

Increased Cybersecurity Risks

Whether you’re an individual or an organization, social media increases your risk of cyber-attack. A popular and easily fallen for tactic used by unscrupulous cyber criminals is spear phishing attacks. Phishing is basically posing as a legitimate entity to extract important information from you or to make you click on a malicious link.

What’s worse, you posting all your personal information, preferences and activities online makes it child’s play to tailor-make a phishing attack for you. To reduce this risk, stop sharing personal information online. Remember, social media is a public platform.

 

How to Protect Yourself on Social Media

  • Check the settings on each platform you use. Make sure the privacy settings are made as tight as possible. If you’re promoting yourself (aren’t we all :-P), consider setting up a different profile for your public persona (with limited personal info), which you can make public.

 

 

  • Don’t share personal information and updates of what you’re doing all the time; this information can even be used to steal your identity by posing as you to gain access to things such as bank accounts and other high value targets.

 

 

  • Password-protect all your devices, especially mobile devices, so that if they get stolen or fall into the wrong hands, the possible damage is minimized.

 

 

  • Click Smart – i.e. think before you click! Almost all hacks and thefts of information require your ‘clicker-happy’ participation.

 

 

  • Multifactor Authentication – Enabling multifactor authentication means that your social platforms are surer that it’s you gaining access. This is especially important for your primary email account as gaining access to it means gaining access to everything else that’s yours online. Pro-Tip: Don’t link your whole life to one email account.

 

 

A Few More Tips

  • Complex Passwords – Strong passwords that are difficult to guess are great. Change them frequently too.

 

  • Meeting Online People, Offline – Always meet people you’ve never met in person before in a public place that you’re comfortable in.

 

  • Research Scams (When in Doubt, Google) – There are sites online that catalogue and display popular scams. You can also use them to check if something is a scam. If you’re suspicious about something, just Google it adding the word ‘scam’ to your search phrase.

 

Finally, it’s important to remember that social media and digital technology are tools. Just like you can use a hammer to build something or destroy something, social media will give back to you depending on how you use it.

So, use social media and the internet responsibly! That’s a small public service announcement from us here at Loops… Oh… And also, watch ‘You’rself!

Have any bad experiences online or near bad ones or any questions? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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