Social media provides a haven for cyber criminals, and the police are urging people to be more careful what they post on their accounts over Christmas. Many families flock to their loved ones at Christmas leaving their homes unattended, but some unwittingly advertise this on social networks.
Would be thieves are exploiting sites like Facebook and Twitter in a bid to target empty properties over the festive period. They receive a helping hand from sites like Facebook, which run a location service that roughly tracks where posts are made from – thus making it easier for thieves to target empty properties.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, follow these simple steps and you’ll stay safe on social media throughout the festive season.
Privacy settings should be your number one priority on social networking websites as this can potentially stop identity theft and cyber criminals from accessing your personal information. If you’re one of those people with your accounts set to public, you’re leaving yourself susceptible to online attacks.
The best option is to up your privacy settings to the max, this may mean you get less friend requests but it’s a small cost to pay. However, some sites allow you to completely customise your privacy settings so different sections of your profile, such as photos and status updates can be made visible to different people such as friends of friends or only those on your list.
Overall, choose settings which you know will be beneficial to you. For example if you’re a recruiter or marketing personnel you do not want to make yourself completely unsearchable, so use the settings at your discretion.
Be mindful what you post…
Not to sound like your Mother or Father here, but you really should be careful what you share on social networks with the online world. Situations in which houses are being burgled due to status updates from home owners stating they’re on holiday are becoming increasingly more common.
Thieves are taking to social networking sites to stalk potential victims and are being hand-fed vital information from careless social networkers. Therefore, be mindful what you post to your profile as things such as presents and saying you’re on holiday could leave you at risk. This is because thieves can roughly indicate where you live as some sites now say where the update was made from. You may be able to turn off the location services option, but if you up your privacy settings like above you should be ok.
Really obvious, but so many people fall into this trap, always keep an eye on your friend requests. If you don’t know someone then simply don’t add them as they could be fraudsters, scammers or thieves.
The best option is to only add people you know or accounts that are from genuine professionals. Things to look out for to determine bogus accounts are: bad grammar, poor spelling, duplicate photos (simply drag the photo into Google search to see if it has been used elsewhere) and spam updates asking you to go to third party websites.
Using all three of the above tips will ensure you stay safe on social media this Christmas and beyond. Just tread with caution, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is! We can beat the cyber criminals, we’ve just got to stay one step ahead of them. If you spot any suspicious activity on social networks report it and you might just save someone else from falling victim.