Using Social Media While Protecting Your Personal Information

Social media networks provide an interactive communication tool that has become important to our personal and business lives.  Along with the benefits we enjoy come associated risks to computer and information security. 

Here are some tips to protect your personal information while utilizing social media sites.

1. Use strong and inconsistent passwords. Make your social media accounts difficult to hack by using different, complicated and unpredictable passwords for your online accounts.

2. Consider all online information as public information. Don't post information that will allow a potential hacker to steal your identity. Think birthday, mother's maiden name. Coupled with publicly attainable information, these personal details could put your information security at risk.

3. Think about your personal and professional reputation when posting online. Avoid posting questionable comments, photographs and links that could reflect negatively on your reputation. If you have any reason to hesitate -- don't post.

4. Don't let your guard down online. Hackers often collect information about you and pose as family or friends while sending malicious software. Even if you know the sender, don't open a link or document that is outside the "usual" or that you are not expecting.

5. Don't interact with strangers online. Expanding your online social network to include people you don't know could present risks.

6. Exercise caution when downloading and utilizing third-party applications. Check out the application to make sure it is from a credible provider before downloading -- sometimes these "enhancements" disguise viruses or malware.

7. Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. Install updates for your computer and web browser, as many updates incorporate security enhancements.

8. Report suspicious interactions. If something is making you feel unsafe online, print out records of your conversation and report the situation to your local authorities. If you think your accounts are compromised or your identity has been stolen, take immediate action.

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