10 Social Media Security Considerations

Social media security issues involve identity theft, brand hijacking, privacy issues, online reputation management, and users’ physical security.

Social media provides opportunities for criminals to “friend” their potential victims, creating a false sense of trust they can use against their victims through phishing or other scams.

Register your full name on the most trafficked social media sites, and do the same for your spouse and kids. If your name is already taken, include your middle initial, a period, or a hyphen. You can do this manually or speed up the process by using

Get free alerts. Set up Google alerts for your name and kids’ names, and you’ll get an email every time one of your names pops up online. You should be aware if someone is using your name or talking about you.

Discuss social media with your kids. Make sure they aren’t sharing personal information that would compromise their own or your family’s security with their “friends.” Monitor what they do online. Don’t sit in the dark, hoping they are using the Internet appropriately. Be prepared not to like what you see.

Be discreet. What you say, do, and post online exists forever. There is no way to completely delete a digital post. Keep it professional, and be aware that someone is most likely monitoring you, possibly including your employer.

Maintain updated security. Make sure your hardware and your software are up to date. Update your antivirus definitions, your critical security patches, and so on.

Lock down settings. Most social networks have privacy settings. Don’t rely on the defaults. Instead, set these preferences as securely as possible. The main social media websites offer tutorials, which you should use.

Always delete messages from unfamiliar users. I get messages from scammers all the time, and I’m sure you do, too.

Don’t share personal information through games or applications. Nothing good can come from publishing “the 25 most amazing things about you.”

Always log off social media sites before walking away from the PC. If you ever use a friend’s or a public PC, this habit will save lots of aggravation.

Don’t use geolocation features, which literally track your every move in order to announce your location to the world. There’s no reason to allow anyone, anywhere, to stalk you. And don’t post status updates sharing the fact that your home is vacant.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, discusses hackers hacking social media on Fox Boston. Disclosures