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Safe Social Media Usage

Safe Social Media Usage

We, as a society, use the internet, and especially social media, more with each day. We share everything, including travel itineraries, political views, and, sometimes, even what we had for lunch. However, we don’t often think about the consequences of the things we post on the internet. A quick Google search can tell you many cautionary tales around why we shouldn’t share too much information on social media, but that’s not what this blog post is about. This blog post is about being safe when you do overshare online.

There are two primary ways to stay safe on social media: 1) security settings and 2) privacy settings.


Security Settings

Proper security settings are the first line of defense. If you aren’t taking proper steps to secure your social media accounts, you are asking for someone to hack into your account and see everything, even your private stuff. Some of the most important settings you can utilize are:

  • Multifactor authentication (turn it on for every website you possibly can, please!)
  • A strong, long, and complex password
  • Configuring account recovery options
  • If you are logged into social media on your phone, ensure your phone uses a screen lock


Of all the above security features, multifactor authentication is arguably the single best security feature you can enable. In an era where compromises and data breaches are in the news daily, even the best password can be stolen or compromised. However, if your social media requires multifactor to log in, typically through an email or text, this will likely prevent a bad guy from getting in with stolen credentials. When they try to use that password, the second step will text you or otherwise send you a notification. Since the bad guy likely doesn’t also have your phone or access to your email (as long as you’re not re-using the same credentials), they won’t be able to access your accounts. This additional hurdle also allows you the opportunity to change your password and block their access.


Privacy Settings

While the security settings mentioned above are strongly recommended for everyone, the next factor to consider is not so black-and-white. Each individual user of social media needs to determine what an acceptable level of risk exposure is when it comes to their posts. Users should then set up their accounts accordingly. Social media is inherently public. A wide audience is likely going to see everything you post. You need to decide how wide of an audience is appropriate for you.

Most social media sites have two primary options: public and private. Public posts on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be viewed by anyone. These posts show up in searches and are easily found by people you’ve never met or are not connected with on social media. Private posts on those same sites are typically limited to only people you approve, such as your friends or followers. It is important to decide what you are using social media for and set these options accordingly. If you hope to be an “influencer” or create a brand, you likely want the general public to view your posts, making them more widely available to the masses. However, if you just want to share funny memes and vacation photos with your friends, it’s best to set these to private in order to limit who can see what you share.


Nothing is truly private

It is important to remember that anything you post on the internet is not going to go away. Once it’s posted, it’s posted forever. Nothing is truly private, and while the security settings help, they don’t protect you 100%. Therefore, it’s important to consider each post carefully. Is it necessary to tell all of Facebook you are about to leave the country (and your house unoccupied) for 10 days? How about posting a controversial political statement or satirical news story? Many of these posts can have far-reaching consequences. Your post could even prevent you from getting a job or cause you to get fired. Social media posts can help a bad guy to know when to rob your house or embarrass you at the next family gathering. It is very important to think before you post.



As society continues to get more and more comfortable with internet and social media use, people need to continually think about what and how we post online. It’s important to remember that this information can be used to harm you if you aren’t careful. Each user of social media should carefully consider their privacy and security settings before joining any social media platform, as well as review your security and privacy settings on a recurring basis to ensure they still meet your needs.

If you’d like some additional information or guides on how to set privacy settings for specific social media sites, please check out the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Identity guide called “ How to Manage Your Social Media Privacy Settings” here:


Written by: Jeff Dice
Information Security Consultant - SBS CyberSecurity, LLC


SBS Resources: 

{Blog} 2019 National Cybersecurity Awareness Month at SBS: As a National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) Champion, SBS will be sharing a variety of cybersecurity downloads, blog posts, and tips.

Hacker Hour webinars are a series of free webinars hosted by SBS CyberSecurity. Unlike paid webinars, Hacker Hours are aimed to meet on a monthly basis to discuss cybersecurity issues and trends in an open format. Attendees are encouraged to join the conversation and get their questions answered. SBS will also offer products and services to help financial institutions with these specific issues.

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2019
Categories: Blog