Social Media Security and Privacy Best Practices

Matthew GortBy Matthew Gort
Client Support Engineer
Trivalent Group, Inc.

The use of social media continues to expand everyday.  New users continue to flock to the sites, but many of them are unfamiliar with how the programs work and how to properly incorporate security.  Many are not familiar with how their information will be shared when it has been posted to a social media site.  The default settings on social media sites carry the lowest degree of privacy because, the more that users post, the more content that’s available for viewing.  While most people do not have an issue with sharing data on the Internet, such information can often be used for malicious purposes.  The answers to many standard security questions can be found by looking up information that people have posted on their social media sites.

The best methods for privacy assurance vary depending on the social media site being accessed.  The key thing to remember is that they default to offering little privacy, requiring the user to make changes in order to limit what is being shared with the public.

Security is also important when handling personal information on social media sites.  They contain a lot of information that would be valuable to a hacker.  If an account has been compromised, it will likely leave email and other accounts vulnerable unless security measures have been taken.  One of the most important security measures to implement would be to have a different password for each site.  At minimum, making the email password unique helps to prevent all sites associated with the email from being compromised.  Along the same lines, a password should never be shared with another person.

Additionally, modifying permissions in each social media site to limit what can be viewed is advised.  On sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, permissions can be set to prevent anyone who has not explicitly been given permission from seeing it.

The best way to limit the exposure of information on social media is to not post.  Unless the information is something that can be shared with others without worry, it should not be posted in the first place.  There is always a chance that data can be breached and exposed.  If the information should be secure, it should not be posted to social media at all.

Social media is only effective when information is being shared.  Many people share what they are currently doing.  This exposes vulnerabilities based on where people are and when they will not be at home.  If it is known that someone is going to be gone for a week, it makes their home vulnerable to break-ins.  Waiting to post until after the event has occurred will add protection, privacy, and still allow others to know what is going on.

To review:

  1. Only post information that is ok to share. If it should be private, do not post it.
  2. Unique password for all credentials. At minimum, set email to unique from all others.
  3. Modify permissions to not share with everyone. Only share with friends.
  4. Do not share passwords—change immediately after sharing it.
  5. Do not share locations until after the visit.