Computers, smartphones, and other devices are invaluable resources that provide individuals of all ages with the unprecedented ability to reach out and interact with the rest of the world. People are able to do this in a number of ways, including the use of social media or networking sites. Courtesy of social media, individuals can share thoughts, images, activities, or any aspect of their lives. In addition, they can take an anonymous peek into the lives of others, whether they live next door or across the globe. Unfortunately, these networks also pose a security to one’s computer, privacy, and even their personal security.
Because of social media’s widespread popularity, it is often used for nefarious purposes that include cyberbullying, harassment, or stalking. Teens, for example, often use social media to harass, spread rumors, or share unflattering or illegal images of certain individuals. In extreme cases, cyberbullying and harassment have even resulted in victims taking their own lives. Predators may use social media to contact and build a relationship with children, or individuals may use information that a person has shared on their account to stalk and even harm them. To prevent harassment and stalking, people should use caution when it comes to what they share online. Teens who are being bullied should inform their parents and, if necessary, contact the proper authorities. Parents of children and teens may monitor their accounts for questionable activity or stay involved by asking questions about who their kids interact with online.
Often, people online share links to images or pages with the promise of an interesting news article or some other valuable information. These links can be a serious cybersecurity threat if people aren’t sure whether the site that they are visiting is one that they can trust. This is because some websites contain malware that can infect computers and compromise a user’s security, leaving them at risk of violations of their privacy or even significant financial damage. As in emails, people should never click on links or attachments sent through social media that they do not recognize, as they may contain harmful viruses that can infect their computer or device and destroy sensitive information. Depending on the type of virus, it can even allow hackers or other parties to gain control of one’s device and copy information from the hard drive, including passwords and bank account numbers. In some instances, hackers have even been able to seize control of computers using a virus.
In addition to not opening unrecognized or shortened links, it is crucial that people install effective anti-virus software. Because viruses are always evolving, this software must be regularly updated to ensure that it is effective against the latest threats. People should also protect their social media accounts by using a complicated password that is a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols and not easily guessed. It can also be helpful to update passwords regularly and never use the same password on different platforms. Most social media accounts give users the option to make their messages or accounts private, which is another good option to protect a user’s information. In these cases, only people who are personally approved can read updates, view images, and post comments.
General Social Media Security Information
- What You Need to Know Now About Cybersecurity and Social Media
- Online Activities: Social Networking
- Five Threats to Your Security When Using Social Media
- Securing Key Accounts and Devices: Social Media
- Social Media: A Hunting Ground for Cybercriminals
Cyberbullying and Harassment
- Cyberbullying and Social Media Statistics
- Tips to Help Stop Cyberbullying
- How to Stop Cyberbullying
- The Right Way to Handle Social Media Harassment and Bullying
- What to Do if You Are Being Bullied on a Social Network
- How to Report Cyberbullying
- Five Ways to Handle and Prevent Cyber-Harassment (video)
- Working to Halt Online Abuse: How to Respond to Online Harassment
- How to Avoid Becoming a Cyberstalking Victim
- Online Harassment and Cyberstalking
Privacy and Password Security
- 11 Simple Ways to Protect Your Privacy
- Seven Steps to Staying Safe on Social Media Sites
- How to Manage Your Social Media Privacy Settings
- Five Ways to Keep Your Social Media Accounts Safe From Hackers
- Ten Tips for Using Social Media Sites Safely
- Social Media Privacy
- Social Media Privacy Guide (PDF)
- Social Media Privacy Basics: Understanding Social Media Privacy
- Protect Your Social Media Accounts
Phishing, Hacking, and Viruses