Social Media Security & Privacy

Using social media and social networking sites comes with all the same security and privacy risks as browsing the internet, and quite a few more that are specific to social networking.

Security Risks of Social Media

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) identifies these five primary dangers of using social media:

  • Viruses – Placed in websites or third-party apps.
  • Tools – Software that allows criminals to access and/or take control of accounts.
  • Social Engineering Attacks – Emails or comments that appear to be from legitimate sources requesting information or providing a URL to malicious site.
  • Identify Theft – Criminals learn personal details from social media posts that allow them to assume your identity or guess your passwords and usernames.
  • Third-Party Applications (e.g., games, quizzes, etc.) – Apps can contain malicious code and/or allow access to personal information.

How to Stay Safe on Social Networks

How secure are your social media habits? Improve your security by following these best practices from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (US-CERT) and the National Cyber Security Alliance:

  • Always remember, the internet is public – Only post information that you're comfortable sharing with anyone in the world. This is no such thing as "private" on the internet.
  • Adjust privacy and security settings – Default settings often provide the least amount of security available. Adjust the settings for each of your devices and accounts to provide the maximum protection available.
  • Every post is forever – Even after posts have been deleted, the information can still be found.
  • Own your presence – What you post online impacts your personal and professional reputation. Who you are online is who potential employers will assume you really are.
  • Protect your personal info – It's what criminals are after:
    • Read privacy policies.
    • Don't give away your personal information.
    • Segment friends for different types of sharing.
    • Don't participate in online quizzes or games that ask for personal details that are often used for password challenge questions.
  • Block, remove, report – If you see bad stuff in your feed, block, remove and/or report it.
  • Be very cautious about third-party applications – They are frequently targeted by criminals.
  • Antivirus software – Use it and keep it up-to-date.
  • Keep software and browsers updated – Remember to reboot daily. Many updates don't take effect until your device is rebooted.
  • Use unique and strong passwordsfor each account.
  • Turn on multi-factor authenticationwherever it is an option.
  • Be very cautious clicking on links in posts and ads.