With the majority of us using social media far more than we should be, it is important to keep up to date with current social media threats, and practice good cyber security where possible. In doing so, we will help protect our systems, networks and programs from digital attacks and social media fraud. Our social media experts share some simple tips that will help give your cyber security a boost and bring you peace of mind when using your favourite social media platforms.

1) Be wary of fake emails

Heard of phishing? No, we don’t mean the rod and bait type, but the type of social engineering attack used to steal sensitive information from users. Phishing is when someone (an attacker) tries to access your social media accounts by masquerading themselves as a trusted entity and sending you a message or link that asks for personal information. An attacker’s aim is to dupe a victim into opening an email/message or clicking on a link which will grant them access to a heap of revealing personal data about the victim

When this happens, don’t click on anything. Instead, read thoroughly, looking for anything suspicious – such as spelling mistakes – and always check the email address or account they came from.

As hackers get smarter, it is becoming more difficult for people to distinguish between a genuine email and a fake one. Luckily, there’s an easy way to check if its legit on Instagram.  Simply go to Settings, followed by Security and then Emails from Instagram, and if the email isn’t there, then it isn’t genuine. Remember, Instagram Facebook or Twitter will never send a direct message within the app.

2)  Double up on security

Setting up two-factor authentication in your Instagram settings means that you’ll receive a notification to your phone number or be asked to enter a special login code when someone tries logging in to your account from a device that’s not recognised. Such alerts will tell you what kind of device attempted to log in and where it’s located. You can then approve or deny, making it almost impossible for the hackers. To set it up, go into Settings again, followed by Security, then Two-factor authentication and follow the set-up instructions.

3) Check your contact details

Ensuring that your social media accounts have your correct contact information is vital, particularly for small businesses. It not only allows potential customers to contact you if they so wish, but it also means that if something happens to your account, the social media team will be able to reach you easily to resolve the issue. Therefore, if you have changed your number or email recently, make sure you’ve updated these details on all your social networks.

4) Optimise password generators

If there is one piece of advice that we would love you to take from this article, it would be to avoid using the same password for pretty much everything in your life that requires one. You are setting yourself up for a world of data breaches, financial losses, credit card fraud etc. Outsource the task of creating a password to Passwords Generator or any other trusted app. This way an unguessable sequence of letters and numbers will be created for you, and all you need to do is write it down somewhere safe (as it will undoubtedly be difficult for you to remember off by heart).

A few of us at MML use LastPass which is marketed as “an online vault” for passwords. It can’t be hacked, and it has local-only encryption which means your data is encrypted and decrypted at device level. Your data is even kept secret from LastPass.

This might seem like a lot of trouble to go to at first, but the sooner you start generating unique passwords for all your online activities and jotting them in a notepad for easy reference, the better you’ll be protected from hackers.

5) Review who has access

When you use your social media account to log in to another site or app, you often end up sharing a lot of information, which opens you up to potential risk. You can check all the connected apps and cancel their access by going to your settings and removing any that you no longer need to see your information.

On Instagram you are also able to check Login Activity where you have the option to click ‘That Wasn’t Me’ if you don’t recognise the login attempt, which will also specify the type of device and its location.

6) Adjust privacy settings on your accounts

Each of the major social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, offers ways to better protect your privacy, but it’s up to you to use and customise them. Check out how to manage your social media privacy settings on each social network.

7) Only accept follow/friend requests from people you know

8) Consider the content you are posting

Remember, once posted, always posted, so before you post take a moment to consider if it really is something you want future employers, your children, your parents, teachers and relatives to aware of? Similarly, do your posts tend to contain personal information? Be careful, by displaying too much of your personal life for everyone to see, you may be making yourself vulnerable to burglary and other unwanted attention.

Staying safe on social media will go a long way in protecting yourself, your family and your devices so it is worth carving out a little time to implement a few basic changes. We hope these few handy tips prove a good form of protection against Malware developed by cybercriminals and helps boost your security efforts and protection against social media fraud.