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How to Protect Ourselves against Misuse of Social Networking Sites

The popularity of social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) has been growing exponentially over the past several years. Many users do not care enough about the security measures that should be implemented whilst using such sites. However, if someone hacks your profile, you will find yourselves in serious trouble.
Here are some tips our experts have to offer on the subject:

  • Update your software regularly. Make sure the computer you use to access the Internet has had the necessary security measures installed in it such as antivirus software, antispyware software and a firewall. Update those regularly and install the latest modifications made available for the operating system you use.
  • Use complex passwords. Do not tell anyone your password and do not use it anywhere else. Some sites allow you to use your phone as part of their access control system. It is extremely important to refrain from using the same password on other sites.
  • Be careful when installing applications: some social networking sites allow you to install third-party applications such as games. Remember that the site has no control over the third-party applications and they have access to all the information you have published. Fraudulent software products can take advantage of the access to your profile launch communication with your friends on your behalf. Please, install only applications that have been developed by reputable companies and remember that during the installation process some applications can change the security settings of your computer.
  • Links: be very careful when you click on links. If the title appears strange, suspicious, or too good to be true, do not click on the link even if it is posed on the wall of your best friend as his or her account may be infected by software generating false content.
  • Fraud: Criminals take advantage of the open nature of social networking sites aiming to defraud users. Fraudulent schemes often rely on false job advertisements and ways of earning money. Another commonplace tactic is to send out messages claiming to come from a friend who has supposedly been robbed during their travel abroad and is now in need of money. Be careful when someone approaches you using a social networking site to ask for money or to make you a surprisingly attractive offer.
  • Confidentiality: do not get under the wrong impression that there is such thing as confidentiality on social networking sites. Never share confidential information of personal or business nature. Publish only things that you would have no problem telling to perfect stranger. Take a closer look at the information regarding the website’s confidentially policies. Some sites disclose your name and e-mail address to third parties. If a site cannot protect your personal information well enough, you should not use it.
  • Lock your devices: once you have signed in your Facebook or Twitter account from your laptop, you may want to designate the device as trusted so that you would not have to repeat the process every time. The same applies to your phone, tablet, or other computers you may use. This is convenient but at the same time opens the door for everyone who has access to your laptop or telephone to gain access to your account. Make sure each of your trusted devices is protected by at least one password or access code and that they have been programmed to lock up after certain period of inactivity.
  • Personal Information: disregard messages prompting you to confirm your user name and password.