12 security tips for using Social Networking sites

Social networking sites has become addiction of life among many; especially teens. One wants to immediate broadcast new happening of life to all friends. It may be a image on foreign tour, getting some recognition or liking any music or video. Many are using these sites for business purpose and earning well. Some of them are using for useful applications like banking, games etc.

The reason to use social networking sites are endless.

Some of the popular social networking sites are: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Digg etc.

But do you know using such sites “without” proper way can leak your personal information to web or hackers.

In this article, we’ll discuss important 12 ways for using social networking sites in a secured manner.

1. Your post is forever

Before posting anything on social networking sites, remember it will be on the web forever – even if you delete it later on or send it personally only to your close friend for private chatting. The site may give confirmation on screen that a particular post has been deleted. But it will remain on server for ever and can be retrieved by hackers using some security loopholes in the system or accidentally by the company itself because of some software bug.

So, next time you’re posting your text message, or image or video on net, just imagine what if you spouse or future boos see them.

2. Do not post personal information

Social networking sites is one of favorite site for hackers. Reason, people generally post their personal information, which is very useful for hackers. It may be your social security number – fully or partly, date of birth, marriage anniversary, home address, phone number, email id etc. Such information can be misused by hackers or identity thefts to steal your identity. Not only that you might have posted answer to your security question of your email account on Facebook like your first school, city of birth, pet’s name etc.

Re-check all your posts and delete such personal information immediately from social networking sites.

Never click on links given in emails. Such links can redirect you to harmful and malicious websites which will download malware or virus on your computer or phone without your permission. Such techniques are used by hackers and termed as phishing. So, always use your own bookmarks saved on your browser or better just type the name of social networking site you want to visit.

4. Do not accept friendship from strangers

Remember, when you were a kid and your parents used to suggest you to never do friendship from strangers. That golden rule of life still applicable on net life also. Hackers make fake profile on sites like facebook and then request for friendship to bulk of people. Once any of them accept friendship request from hacker, they can easily steal your personal information from your account.

So, always accept friendship request from known one. If doubts, ask for more information like phone number or ask some personal question from stranger before accepting friendship request.

5. Do not expose your email address book.

Generally, at the time of joining any social networking site, the site asks to you enter your email username and password, so that the system send invitation email to all your email id’s on address book. Do NOT do that. Just skip that step. Exposing all your contacts in address book online is harmful to your security. You can send personal invitation to your selected friends / relatives / colleagues later on yourself.

6. Do not use same password for all sites

This is one of the common mistake made by millions of people worldwide. Since number of sites are asking for registration before visiting their websites, it’s becoming difficult to remember unique username and password for each website. So, generally, people are using common password among all websites – from banks to email, from entertainment sites to social networking sites. This is VERY dangerous. Many websites are not so secure and they are not even using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to protect website. In that case, it becomes very easy for hackers to steal data from such websites. Once they get data from such websites, they can easily find out your email address, username, password, security question and answer, dob etc., which you’ve given to that website. Such data can be used to login to your email account, internet banking account, social networking sites etc. to post on your behalf and do identification theft.

So, always use separate password for every site. If you find it difficult to remember the passwords, make a list of websites with username and password on a diary and keep in a safe place. Add your banking and credit card passwords also in that diary. Remember to keep that diary in a safe place. For security reasons, I’m not recommending to store your passwords in your word/ excel file on your computer.

7. Put password on your phone

All smartphone comes with the feature of protecting it via password. This password is then required when you unlock / re-start your phone. In absence of it, your phone can be misused by your friends or by thieves in case of theft of smartphone.

There are many android apps which allows you to delete all your data on Smartphone remotely. Search them and install them on your phone today.

Stealing your phone means one has accessed to social networking websites too.

8. Always use https

Whenever you’re using any social networking websites, be sure that the URL of the website starts with https:// and not with http:// (see the difference of ‘s’).

This will make sure that the information you are entering on that website is safe, secure and encrypted while transferring from your computer to the server of social networking website.

9. Do not give invitation to thieves

Sounds impractical but it is true. Many people are giving open invitation to thieves via social networking websites and you may be one of them. People, just to get some notice text from friends, post their vacation programs on net and allowing thieves to come to their home when it is alone. Some are even posting their complete itenary on their account.

Do not commit such blunders and post such information after returning from vacation to share your happiness with friends.

10. Search yourself on Google

Just google your name and find out what information is available for public about yourself. Check all your mistakes via this step. You might find your social security number, email id, dob, photo etc. Such info is sufficient for identification theft.

Once you find any such info, delete it from your facebook post first. If it has been posted / copied on some other website like people search, yellowpages etc., request that website to remove your data from server. You can easily find “contact us” or similar links on such websites.

11. Do not use public computers

NEVER use public computers like cybercafe to use social networking websites. Such computers are flooded with malware, keyloggers, virus etc., which becomes easy to transfer your login credentials to someone else within seconds.

Many cases of identity thefts are rooted to usage of public computers.

In case of emergency, you use such computers, delete all cookies, temporary files, browsing history etc. from that computer and re-start it – to be on the safer side.

12. Check law of your country

Many countries do not allow you to post anything against your ministers. It doesn’t matter whether your country is democratic or republican one. You must follow the laws of your country and keep an eye on legal cases via newspaper where one is found guilty in breaking law on social networking websites.

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