How to keep online accounts and social media safe

During a time when technology is fast-changing and constantly evolving, staying current with online safety measures is difficult. Add on social media, and you have a plethora of cybersecurity advice to keep straight. As a refresher, here are four key steps to stay safe online, followed by a few updates to keep in mind when using social media websites. Both are from our friends at the SANS Institute.

The Basics:

  1. Technology alone won’t protect you. Hackers often target directly with scams, luring you to offer personal information or click on malicious links that provide them access to your computer. Always be mindful and vigilant when online.
  2. Use strong and unique passwords that are not easily guessed. It can be more difficult to remember passwords when you make them individualized and unique, so use a password manager to keep track. Also consider two-step verification. It’s an added safety measure that simply requires a supplementary login step.
  3. Make sure your systems and software are up to date. Hackers look for vulnerabilities in your system and use special programs to exploit them.
  4. Back up all your devices. If a hacker does find his or her way into your device, the best course of action is to wipe it clean and start from scratch. Make sure you are regularly backing up your important information and verify that you can restore from them.

Social Media:

  1. Protecting your personal information when using social media is a common concern. Things to consider are incriminating photos or posts that could impact your future if universities or employers use social media as a background check. Also, inadvertently giving hackers too much personal information in posts can offer them a means to guessing passwords and accessing protected information.
  2. Secure your accounts. Enable privacy settings and review/test them often to make sure you’re adequately guarding your profiles. Also, this should go without saying, but create strong and varying passwords. If one account is compromised, others could remain intact.

For full reports from the SANS Institute, check out their November and December newsletters here:

Remember, it’s unlikely that you’ll regret being too cautious when using the internet. So, take the right steps to protect yourself before becoming vulnerable to online predators.

Nathan Boxx, Bradley Newman, Jason Seltzer

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