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Social Media Cyber Tips for Personal Data Protection

Privacy / June 11 , 2020

Despite my best efforts to follow key social media cyber tips, I’ve been concerned about data privacy for quite some time now. As a resident of California, I’m entitled under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to ask about the data that companies have mined from me.

Given recent data scandals involving popular social media channels, such as Facebook and Google+, I decided to exercise my rights under the CCPA. Even though I closely follow cyber risk and privacy topics for a living, I was stunned by what I learned.

Both the sheer volume (we’re talking dozens of pages of spreadsheets) and depth of data points (e.g., the current phone numbers of friends I have not called since high school) rudely reawakened me to the reality of how our personal data has been commodified, sold, and traded without our full knowledge.

The risks of social media use are real and frightening: Identity theft, phishing, and now deepfakes, all have continuous opportunities with the information we constantly expose online. Using just a few pieces of personal information, a threat can target you or your business, open a credit card in the name of your child, or commit wire fraud.

Yet, perhaps out of denial (“it won’t happen to me”) or cynicism (“they already have all my data”), too few of us take the steps needed to protect ourselves. It’s never too late to mitigate risk and take action, rather than continuing to overshare your personal information with strangers and big data companies.

The cyber risk experts at NetDiligence have been leading the advancements in cyber security since 2001. Dedicated to staying as far ahead of the cyberattack curve as possible, they have become the go-to solution for businesses who have fallen under attack or are looking to better prepare for one.

Eight Easy Ways to Protect Your Data on Social Media

Here are some simple ways to reduce your vulnerability across social media platforms:

1. Check Have I Been Pwned

The site allows you to see which of your accounts have already been compromised. This can be a good wakeup call and a reminder to change your passwords.

2. Practice Good Password Hygiene

Regularly change the passwords of your most-used accounts and make them unique to each site. Adopt two-factor authentication wherever possible.

3. Keep Your Profile Simple

Only post or list basic, limited information and avoid key data points like your birthday, phone number, and address. If you must include your birthday, consider changing either the day, month, and/or year. When inputting your name, perhaps only use your first or middle names, or even a nickname. Don’t use a cropped, forward-facing profile picture that can be easily turned into someone’s fake I.D.

4. Never Reveal Valuable Information

Don’t post photos of personal documents like a driver’s license or reveal when and where you’re going on vacation. Avoid posting any information about or photos of your children.

5. Screen Your Contacts List

Man on smartphone, with holographic social media icons floating above the phone. Do you know all of your contacts personally? If there’s any doubt, remove them from your contacts list. An exception might be LinkedIn where professional networking sometimes depends on contacting strangers. Still, it’s a good idea to review your connections for suspicious profiles. Always be skeptical of links or attachments anyone sends you directly via social media.

6. Never Respond to Surveys, Quizzes, or Memes

These seemingly innocent forms usually request personal information, such as “my top ten favorite concerts,” that are then passed around on social media. As tempting as they may be to complete, these are often used for data mining (including your list of contacts).

7. Adjust Privacy Settings

All social media channels have varying degrees of privacy settings that allow you the option to make your profile (and its varying elements) private. Facebook, for example, now has extremely specific privacy settings that allow you to decide whether photos, posts, likes, saves, and comments can be seen by just you, friends, friends of friends, or everyone. Instagram, however, just has the option to make your profile private (which means only approved followers can see it), or public (which means everyone can see it).

8. Don’t Use Social Media Apps

Instead, access social media platforms from your browser whenever available. For example, go to LinkedIn.com instead of using the LinkedIn app on your phone or tablet. The user interface and functionality is usually not as capable and seamless when compared to the app versions, but with browser versions, you don’t have to give them permission to own all of the data on your device. Why unnecessarily give social media companies access to your contacts, text messages, microphone, camera, location, and more?

“Like” and “Follow” These Key Social Media Cyber Tips

We all enjoy the benefits of social media, and with a degree of caution, we can continue to use these socially valuable tools without inviting trouble. It is impossible to control all your data and where it goes. However, if you take the opportunity to control it when you can, you can significantly decrease your risk of getting hacked.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact NetDiligence at 610.525.6383 or send them a message.


Mark Greisiger

Mark Greisiger

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