There may not be a burglar on every block looking to break into your home, but that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep locks on the doors and windows. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and that old adage holds especially true when dealing with online business. For people who venture into realms like social media to brand and sell, there’s always a risk that a hacker’s out there trying to get your information.
Sometimes being hacked might only result in a troll saying stupid things through your network – like what happens to many celebrities whose sites are hacked. Worse on the scale, of course, is the fact that hackers can steal your personal information and even get into your finances. Even if it’s not a hacker and just a program designed to mess things up, it can still mess things up! Always take these steps to create a safe social media environment:
1) Pay attention to what you’re posting:
This tip covers your safety, but it also covers your reputation – that’s something that must stay safe, too. So, bottom line, always pay attention to what you’re posting.
Make sure that you’re not giving out any essential information, even if it’s in a private message to someone you think you can trust. And before you post any material, give it an hour or so, re-read it, and see if it’s still something you think is worth posting.
2) Use the privacy settings:
Whether Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or some other social networking site, there are probably all manner of privacy settings you could use to lessen your risk of being hacked.
Browse around the site and become familiar with them – you want to ensure some pretty strict settings in order to stay safe!
3) Keep the really personal stuff personal:
Far too often people choose passwords that are simply personal things to them, and then they end up giving away that personal information incrementally. If you have seen “Now You See Me,” then you already know that the personal stuff needs to stay personal. Now, it’s okay to be friendly and personable, but not overly personal. People finding out your real phone number, your address, etc, can use this information nefariously.
4) Know your “friends”:
Just because a person is a fan or follower doesn’t mean they’re your friend. Yes, it sounds cruel, and you should definitely treat them as friends to an extent. But when it’s all said and done, you’re not attending their weddings or sending airfare support for a Vegas vacation. So before you start treating anyone like a friend, find out a little more about them.
RELATED: Why Your Facebook Friends Matter to Employers
5) Hey, don’t click that!
While it’s true that engagement in social media cannot be a one-way street, you still have to be a willing hypocrite to an extent. What does this mean? Well, you want people to click and follow-through on the links you post, but you shouldn’t be quick to do the same. You can trust you, but can you trust that the link you’re clicking from a supposed “friend” doesn’t contain malware or some sort of spying program?
6) Tidy up your machine:
Staying safe in social media means staying safe online in general. This is where a good anti-virus program comes in handy. Regular sweeps, perhaps daily, will help to keep you a lot safer. And you should also try to keep your business machine aimed at business. For those extracurricular activities you may be a bit embarrassed about, well, just use a different machine.
7) Different e-mails and passwords:
Your main email should be separate from your social media account email. For instance, when you sign up for Facebook, go ahead and create a new email to do it. It takes about three minutes, it’s 100% free, and you can easily keep track of one extra email. If someone gets into one of your accounts, they won’t have access to more than one of your networks! Also, for passwords, as briefly mentioned above, don’t use something obvious. Mix things up and create complex passwords, making sure to change them every few months.
8) Use a reputable e-commerce outlet:
Oh, the money. Yes. This needs protected more than anything! If you’ve followed along so far, then now you have to make sure that the actual sites you’re using are holding up their end. Don’t use some obscure e-wallet or CC system because you can save a few bucks. Make sure you’re using reputable companies for your e-wallet and cart needs.
Staying safe online takes some diligence and intelligence on your part, but it’s all essentially common-sense stuff that you just need to pay attention to. If you can be cognizant of the atmosphere and always willing to put in a little extra effort, you can greatly reduce the risks associated with online business and social media.
Author: Simon Campbell is a writer for Qwaya. He loves to write different topics about social media and participates in some communities and forums.