Security Tips Series, 2 - Social Media

Thursday, September 17, 2020

In the second article in our security tips series, we take you through some of the do’s and don’ts of social media channels. In this article we discuss everything from fake profiles, security settings, login information and more.

Watch out for fake profiles
Fake profiles are bots that track information about you, spam your feed, troll you/your friends or send through propaganda or fake links to you via direct messages. To identify if you are looking at a fake profile, check if these things are present; no profile photo, newly created account, strange profile name, only a small number of followers, repeated content on the person’s page. If one or more of these things are present, the profile you are looking at is most likely a fake.

Oversharing and your online reputation
The best thing to remember is to not share content you wouldn’t be happy sharing with your grandmother. This is a great way to prevent oversharing and to protect your online reputation. Too often, people post opinions, thoughts, images and videos online that they forget can be accessed by any member of the public. Potential viewers of this content include prospective employers, family, friends, teammates and work mates. Remember that all it takes is one misguided or drunken post to ruin a reputation both online and offline.

Use different strong passwords for each social account (and multi-factor authentication)
Using multiple passwords means that if one is compromised, all your accounts won’t be hacked as well. Multi-factor authentication is a way of ensuring if your password is cracked there are other layers of security that a hacker will have to bypass to get access to your accounts (i.e. a code sent to your mobile phone, an email sent to your inbox or an authenticator app code that needs to be entered).   

Manage your profiles and update regularly
All social media accounts that you create need to be managed and updated. They should be audited at least every six months, if not every 2-3 months. It’s important to check your followers, profile information and old posts that you have made to check that you are still happy with all this information being shown on your profile.

Know the security and privacy settings of each platform
Check the settings and privacy information for each social media platform that you are using. Make sure you are aware of the ways in which the social media platforms are using your data and how they are sharing what you post. Some platforms say that what you post on their platform they own, which means it will be tough to remove for good if you wanted to take an old post down.

Recognise scams
There are five main types of social media scams - romance scams, lottery scams, loan scams, access token theft and job scams. Romance scams involve sending messages to people that they don’t know, often pretending to be divorced or in a bad marriage. Their goal is to gain the trust of their target and to get money for flights or a visa that they will then take and use for themselves. Lottery scams claim that you're among the winners of a lottery and that you can receive your money for a small advance fee. Loan scammers send messages offering instant loans at a low interest rate for a small advance fee. Access token theft is often from an official looking account that requests access to your account and will send you a link that will then allow spammers to access your account and spread spam. Job scammers use misleading or fake job postings to try and get your personal information or your money. Our top tip regarding scams: If any amount of money or account access is asked for its probably a scam!

Create a private profile or use a pseudonym
By setting your profile to private or tweaking your privacy settings so that only select people can see it you can control exactly who sees your posts. Alternatively, by using an alias, you can anonymously share opinions about topics that will protect your reputation and personal information. On all social media platforms, you can use a pseudonym rather than your actual name if you wish to maintain some form of anonymity (although Facebook has problems with this). Social media platforms such as Instagram even let you set your profile to private so that only your followers can see your posts.

Turn off location settings and/or background data
Some apps use your background data and your location settings even when you aren’t using the app regularly. For example, Snapchat maps always display where you are whenever you open the app and your last known location when Snapchat was opened. You will need to go into your settings to turn this off. Have a look at your phone when you next have time and familiarise yourself with the applications on your phone, how they work and discover what is unexpectedly running.

Never share your login information
You should always keep your passwords and your personal information such as your addresses or usernames to yourself. That means when sharing your details with anyone, you always need to be careful as the information you share could end up in unexpected places. We recommend taking extreme care when sharing passwords, usernames, address details or answers to any security questions that you may have set.


What is TDR and what do we do?
TDR stands for ‘Telecommunications Dispute Resolution’ a free and independent service that helps consumers manage complaints about any product or service from their telecommunications provider. We resolve complaints about landline, mobile and internet issues.

Why are we sharing this?
We decided to do a blog to inform people about the trending topics happening in the telecommunications industry, as well as sharing our knowledge of disputes in the sector.