You set your profile to private, so you think your information on social media is completely safe, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not.
One security risk is your password. If you’re like most of the people I’ve talked with, your password is easy to remember — and easy to guess.
Even the most mediocre hackers are good at guessing passwords. They expect you to add your pet’s name to your birth date (both of which are clearly visible online), and they have it.
But maybe you’re one of the people who is more protective of information on social media. If you think so, then read on to see you truly look to social media hackers.
And by social media, I’m talking about Facebook. Snapchat, Venmo, Twitter, Instagram, and all the others. Hackers take advantage of all sorts of social media platforms.
How Hackers Take Advantage of Information on Social Media – Take the Quiz!
1. You use the same password across the board [T/F]
Hopefully you selected “false”. While it is useful to use the same password for all your social media sites so it’s easier to remember, hackers love this. If they access one of your accounts, then the rest of your accounts are vulnerable, too.
2. The odds of your account getting hacked are small [T/F]
This is false. Hackers access over 600, 000 Facebook accounts a day, and that’s just one social media platform. Once in, they can add to your timeline or even clone your account. Even worse, sometimes they can use the information they find to figure out where you live.
3. It’s easy to tell if you’ve been hacked [T/F]
Not always. Have you ever had a 2nd friend request from someone you’ve already friended? The 2nd request often comes from a hacked account. If you friend them, they now have access to your account as well.
4. Your posted address, birthday, and phone number are safe if they are hidden by your privacy settings [T/F]
This is often false. People regularly gain access to your information on social media anyway. That’s what hacking is.
5. The photos you post are safe when you don’t write details about them [T/F]
Not at all. Each photo you post is embedded with your personal information. This info leads hackers right back to you.
6. Once you deleted a post, it’s gone for good [T/F]
Have you ever regretted a post, taken it down, and given a sigh of relief? After all, it’s gone right? Don’t you wish! Even if when you delete a post, it’s stays on the web… forever. And people can find it.
7. Social media is a good place to vent [T/F]
Not so much. Sometimes it feels good to lash out online when you’re upset. It’s better than saying something in person you might regret, right? Turns out this isn’t true, so think twice before posting your vents. Friends of friends as well as employers and schools might find them.
8. The receiver is the only person who will see your personal messages [T/F]
Wrong again. Even sending a personal message filled with personal information is risky. You never know where that message will end up. Once it’s in the cloud, you have no control.
9. It’s okay to friend someone you haven’t met in person [T/F]
Red flag! Without knowledge of this person, you have no clue what their true motives are. It’s never a good idea to give someone open access to your life or your information on social media.
It’s also a bad idea to friend someone you think you vaguely remember from high school or who says they met you at a rock concert. As your “friend,” they suddenly know a lot about you. They see what you share—like whether your roommates or parents are out of town for the weekend. They can spam you with ads. And having friends you aren’t sure of puts your real friends at risk. Delete people you don’t know or aren’t sure you can trust.
10. Do you believe a request to log into a new site is okay if it seems familiar?
Nope. This screams of phishing and identity theft. It’s a foot in the door for accessing your information on social media. Don’t do it!
11. Social media quizzes are confidential?
They’re not. Even if you don’t post your quiz results, they’re still on the web…and people can find them.
12. Social media won’t affect future school admissions or employment.
This is false too. Here are some examples: 1) A high school teacher was fired for a photo she posted on Facebook (she was holding a glass of wine). 2) While you’re focusing on how to study for college, 47 percent of college admission officers already looking at applicants’ social media accounts as part of the admissions process. 3) Future bots are coming that will be able to recognize your face, so even if your name isn’t there you’ll be identifiable.
How did you do?
Are you as social media savvy as you thought?
No matter what you’ve discovered about your vulnerability to hackers, here is some advice to take away:
- Choose complicated passwords and make them different for every account. This is your first line of defense.
- Continue to think carefully about your privacy settings.
- Don’t friend people you don’t know.
- Think about how what you share might affect other people.
Above all, remember this ONE rule:
If you wouldn’t want it on the front cover of the New York Times, keep it off of social media!