SUMMARY: Our seven tips on staying safe from social media threats this summer.
With summer approaching, many families will have more free time. That means more time outdoors, having fun and getting together with friends and family. It can also mean more screen time – including time on social media which brings increased security risks.
The more time you spend online and on social media, the more opportunities you have to come across various threats to your identity and data – from viruses and malicious software to fraud and hacking. But breathe easy. There are ways to stay safe this summer while using social media. Here are some important tips:
Be intentional about safety.
For some people, the more followers the better. And this means many people don't even personally know most of the people in their social media circle. This can put you at higher risk for a variety of threats. Review your social media account privacy and security settings and make sure they're set to protect you. Consider editing your online social circle to only the people you truly know. Talk about online and social media security with your family and make sure you're all using strong security settings.
Take it easy – on public Wi-Fi.
When you're out and about this summer, you're likely to connect to a public Wi-Fi network. Remember, these networks are unsecured, which means any of your online activity, including social media or shopping, can be easily hacked. Avoid using these networks when possible, especially for conducting activities you consider private.
Don’t advertise your absence.
You know the posts. Those fabulous "wish you were here" posts with idyllic photos of paradise. The problem is, when you post pictures of your fantastic vacation experiences, you're advertising your home is empty – and all its contents are free for the taking. Avoid posting any travel experiences until after you've returned home. Then share away!
Report suspicious or inappropriate behavior.
If you see social media posts or comments that seem threatening or suspicious in any way, report them to the social media platform so they can be investigated. If you think your account has been hacked because someone else is posting in your name, report the incident right away, change your password and let your contacts know your account has been compromised.
Avoid clicking on suspicious ads.
This kind of hacking can happen through the use of adware – malicious software downloaded to your device when you click on an ad or even a post in a friend's feed. Never click on a suspicious message or ad. Delete them or keep scrolling.
Explore offline interests.
The best way to avoid online and social media risks is to spend more time doing something else. Get involved in a new physical activity. Challenge yourself to learn a new skill. Read hard copy books or explore new places. After all, no one had the best summer ever on social media.