The recent takeover of the Burger King and Jeep Twitter pages probably got you thinking about the security of your social media accounts.
Good. But the truth is you shouldn't need a high-profile case to take action or at least think about taking action. Whether you administer a big brand page or just have a few personal accounts, here are some simple tips to protect your digitally-savvy self from scammers, spammers and hackers.
Make sure your passwords are unique and complex. When Burger King was hacked, Twitter user @flibblesan tweeted "Somebody needs to tell Burgerking that 'whopper123' isn't a secure password." That's funny, but it's not. SplashData's annual list of the most common passwords used on the Internet in 2012 revealed "password" was the most popular, followed by "123456" and "12345678." [editor's note: Really?] The ideal password will contain a combination of upper -- and lower-case letters, symbols and numbers, are at least eight characters, do not spell anything and are not used on other accounts. A terribly inconvenient password is better than one someone can guess. (Just be sure you store your password in a safe place in case you need to retrieve it.)
Review apps and add-ons regularly. You should review all apps and add-ons associated with your social media accounts regularly, as each is a potential access point for a security breach. Remove the apps and add-ons you no longer use. In the event of a compromised account, immediately revoke access of apps and add-ons to further protect your accounts. Always use strong, unique passwords for apps, add-ons and other account extensions, too.
When accessing viral content through social media, think before you click. When a large volume of content is being spread from many sources, the spread of malware and viruses can also increase. Trust your gut -- if something looks suspicious or seems too unbelievable to be true, it probably is. Another alternative is to Google the story and access it from a source you trust as opposed to clicking directly from a social network.
Update and upgrade your browsers. Current browsers will be updated with the latest security features to help fortify any weak points that may serve as access points for an account to be hacked or compromised. It only takes a few minutes to upgrade, so do it before something happens.
Be aware of Twitter direct message spam. Those odd tweets that say things such as "did you see this pic of you?" or "I can't believe they got you doing this on video" could be originating from a compromised account. Avoid clicking on these anyway, but if someone you know appears to be tweeting something out of character, that's a clue something may be amiss. Also, be a good citizen of the online world and politely notify the account-holder of the potential breach to help limit the damage.
Watch for Facebook "like" scams. Facebook will generally alert you via a pop-up window and ask you to confirm your actions if it is not confident in a link you are accessing. If you have already mistakenly clicked on a link that added to your "likes and interests" on Facebook, you will need to edit your interests on your profile and remove any links to spam sites you may have acquired. Do this by selecting "edit my profile" by your profile image. Next, click "likes" and remove anything suspicious. If you see something strange coming from the Facebook account of someone else, be a "Facebook friend" in the best sense and let the account-holder know.
Make sure your anti-virus software is current. Enough said. It's important.
Start with those tips, add plenty of common sense and you should be in good shape. Being a smart and savvy member of the digital world goes a long way for you and others.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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