5 Ways to Keep Your Social Media Accounts Safe from Hackers and Scammers in Mississauga

It seems these days that our lives are hosted online. From pictures of the family dog to updates of our travels while in another country, everything from personal to professional news is heard (that is, read) first on social media. It is important that you keep your social media account safe so that you are not a victim of online scams, viruses, or identity fraud. Hackers these days have the skill and ability to run millions of password combinations within minutes to access your social media account.

It may be intuitive to not post your SIN or credit card number online, but a hacker can do harm with a lot less than those vital numbers. Beyond the basic required registration information like your full name, birth date, phone number, and email address, vulnerable are the details of your personal life: where you work or go to school, who your family and friends are, where you live, and whether you're on vacation (leaving your house empty).

Here are five ways to keep your social media accounts safe:

5) Use Strong Passwords

This is the most common security counter as all websites and applications require passwords to log into your account. With so many different accounts, it may be tempting to use the same or a variant password for all of them, including your email account - but refrain from doing so as this leaves all of your accounts vulnerable to attack upon the hacking of one. Use different passwords and, importantly, use a strong and long alphanumeric one with symbols. Better still would be to use multi-stage authentication which most social media platforms allow. If you dread the concept of having dozens of passwords to manage, invest in a good password manager application that securely houses all your account logins with a master password. Do not keep your passwords stored in a document on your computer.

4) Review Your Privacy Settings

It is good to make a habit of reviewing your privacy settings as social media platforms are continually making changes to their terms and conditions. Take the time to go through each of the privacy options and settings and ensure that you are comfortable sharing with the public and the platform the information it requests. It is good practice to make private (only available to your friends/approved list) most or all data unless with good reason as public information is searchable and viewable by anyone online. A publicized picture can be copied and used by anyone on the internet leaving you vulnerable to scams like catfishing or identity theft. Also good practice is to review your friends/approved list to see who has access to your posted information - ensure you truly know all of these individuals personally.

3) Consider Third-Party Application Requests

Applications and websites often ask for access to one of your social media accounts for login. Before accepting the request to connect the accounts, consider the validity of the new application, and whether the information that it requests from your social media account is reasonable. When in doubt, deny the application access. If you truly want the app thereafter, it should give you an option to login via email address alone; beware of any website that does not give this alternative option.

2) Keep Your Antivirus/Security Software up to Date

Security software is your first line of defense and a worthy investment. The program(s) will work full-time monitoring your computer and account and alert you of suspicious activity. To minimize your risk of viruses or security breaches, beware of suspicious emails or links sent to you, and consider the security of public Wi-Fi services.

1) Do Not Click on Unknown Content

Spam is notorious online - from guaranteeing you riches to promising to save someone in a small town of a distant country - they are abundant and a daily nuisance. Do not click or open any mail you do not recognize. If in doubt, you could contact the alleged sender and verify the delivery and content before opening the item. If it is spam, the sender may not have realized that their account was hacked and sending out items on their behalf. Delete any spam immediately and if the options allow: block the sender and/or report it to online administrators of the platform.

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