Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. LinkedIn. Tumblr. If you don’t already have accounts on one of these social media sites, you probably know someone who does. All five have millions of registered users – Facebook, the largest of the bunch, has more than 1.5 billion. There are few places on the Internet with more daily visitors. More than any category of media today, these websites define how we interact with our friends, family members and strangers while online.
However, the very nature of social media creates certain risks that many users may not be prepared for. We often don’t stop to think about just how much of our personal information is available for public consumption, thanks to these websites. Unfortunately, this means that many of us are putting ourselves at risk of identity theft.
Luckily, there are steps each user can take to reduce the chance of this occurring. In the coming weeks, this series will address the different security measures that each popular social media network provides.
How to keep your Facebook account secure
Facebook is the world’s most popular network, and in many ways it is a jack-of-all-trades. While other social networks have specific niches, Facebook bills itself as being for everyone over the age of 13, and users have numerous options for how they choose to use the service. They can chat with friends, catch up on news, share photos and videos, and even play games.
But Facebook also gives users the opportunity to publish a significant amount of their personal information on their profile pages. This includes their names, dates of birth, email addresses and home cities. While this may not seem dangerous, it doesn’t take much information for a dedicated hacker to steal your identity. The clues present on a Facebook page could be all that is necessary to break into a victim’s email account – a perfect avenue for a thief looking to hack into financial accounts and steal money.
Luckily, Facebook does offer some security measures that all users should consider:
- Login Notifications: If you enable login notifications in your account, Facebook will send a message to your mobile device any time someone attempts to access your account using your username and password. This is a good way to know when it is time to change your password.
- Active Session Checking: We’re all guilty of leaving our Facebook accounts logged in on multiple computers and mobile devices from time to time. Unfortunately, this can leave us vulnerable to those who would seek to access our accounts. Facebook allows users to see where they are logged in and end any active sessions if they choose.
- Privacy Checkup: Facebook offers a privacy menu that allows users to easily see how much of their information is viewable by strangers. They can then adjust their privacy settings to limit profile visibility to only their closest friends.
In addition, all Facebook users should take great care in maintaining strong passwords that will be difficult for people to guess. This also means changing passwords regularly, and remembering to log out of devices when not using Facebook.
While these simple steps can lower a person’s risk of identity theft through Facebook, the problem of identity theft can never be completely eliminated. This is where an identity theft protection service like Identity Guard can help. Our service will monitor your credit file, Social Security Number and public records, and notify you of certain activity that can indicate fraud.