Cyber security, or rather the lack thereof, is one of the main threats of our time. Learn how to keep your social media channels safer in 2015. (Disclaimer: hackers tend to get more sophisticated so stay informed).
I. Have Complicated, Unique, Difficult-To-Crack Passwords
Hate changing your passwords for your social media, online banking, Amazon.com and many more online accounts? So do I. But having someone invade your privacy, social channels, or even financials is a lot worse.
The DO List:
A good solution to make changing passwords less of a pain is to sign up for a password storage tool. Personally, I use 1Password which carries a yearly fee. I've also heard good things about a free tool called LastPass.
- All you need to do, once you have such a tool, is to create one really hard password and remember it. Then you can let the tool auto-generate all your other really hard passwords, which you won't need to remember.
- You can have 1Password installed on your Mac/ PC, iPhone, and iPad (not iPad 1).
- You can automatically update 1Password every time you go to a site that requires you to sign in. The tool will auto-generate complex passwords, fill them in and store the details - directly through the 1Password browser extension. Say you are going right now to change your Facebook password, when you are done doing that, 1Password can automatically record and encrypt the details for you.
The DON'T List:
- Don't use the same password or similar password that you slightly modify for multiple accounts. Make each password unique, with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters - at least 9 characters, ideally more.
- Change your password periodically (at least every 6-12 months). While having a really difficult password is the number one best way to protect your accounts, changing your password cannot hurt.
- Don't use dictionary words, your pet's name, your college or any other words that have an obvious correlation to you as a person. These are easy to find, even just via Google, and so-called "dictionary attacks" are extremely common and simple.
- Personally, I discourage publishing your birthday on LinkedIn or Facebook as this date is a crucial detail to cracking and taking over your (online) identity; especially in the USA where birth date and social security number ARE your identity.
II. Tighten Your Security and Privacy Settings
Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media channels occasionally change their privacy options:
- For a safe 2015, visit at least your key social channels - in my case Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn - and check your privacy and notification settings. (While you are there, disconnect access for apps you no longer use.)
- Something often over-looked or maybe deemed as too complicated, is two-step-verification. Most social platforms let you enable it. Here is how it works:
- In addition to your password, every time you sign in, you get a text message or app notification with an additional code (usually 4 numbers) that you need to enter.
- You specify your trusted device(s) to receive the code, e.g. your iPhone or iPad, so only you have access.
If you are unfamiliar with the privacy & security settings of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, read on for more detailed instructions:
- Twitter > Go to: Settings / Security & Privacy
- You will see the option for 2-step-verification
- Enable "Require personal information to reset my password"
- Don't allow people to tag you in pictures (unless you have a good reason)
- Then go to: "Apps" and "Revoke access to apps you don't use anymore".
- This prevents you from giving access to your data to unnecessary parties.
- Facebook > Go to: (Your) Timeline > Next to "View Activity Log", click on "..." > "Timeline Settings"
- Go through all the option & choose your sharing comfort level. In general, I don't share anything beyond my "Friends". Of course, brand pages are public as they function more like a website. Some things are set to "Only Me".
- Tagging: approve all tagging of you in pictures and posts to know what is out there about you.
- Also go to "Security" and "Privacy" to adjust your settings in more depths.
- Review the apps you have authorized, disconnect the ones you no longer use. Apps often get access to a lot of your data.
- LinkedIn > Where your picture is on the right hand side, top of your profile page, choose "Privacy & Settings" > "Accounts"
- You choose if you if you want to share your information with 3rd parties or be retargeted. Some people want it, I don't.
- I suggest you don't share your connections with anybody, as this list is like personal IP that you have created over time. It's under "Profile" /"Select who can see your connections".
The bottom line is that you have a responsibility for your own online security. Many security breeches happen because of carelessness. At a minimum:
- Never write down passwords or share them with others. Don't store them in your browser.
- Never use passwords that are "easy to remember" (as that makes them easy to crack)
- Never leave any level of "entry" unprotected: Have (unique) passwords on your firewall, your Wifi network, your computer, your phone, your tablet etc.
MarketingXLerator wishes you a safe and happy holiday season and 2015!