Social Networking Security Advice Page

Social Networking Security

Social networking has become a way of life for millions of people nowadays. Instead of making a phone call or sending an email, people more often prefer to stay in touch with their friends and family by sharing their personal content and photographs on their social networking profile page. Besides, many companies and individuals are using social networking sites in order to extend their contacts and deliver marketing messages.  The fact that so many unknown people are using the same social networking site is very risky and sometimes can lead to devastating consequences. Using information that you provide about your location, hobbies, interests, and friends, a malicious person could impersonate a trusted friend or convince you that they have the authority to access other personal or financial data.

No matter for which purposes (business or private) you use social networking sites, you are always encouraged to provide a certain amount of personal information.


The Risks

  • Account Hacking and Identity Theft

VAMPhire.comDisclosure of private information either by you or by anybody else can lead to devastating consequences. The most common ones are hacking and hijacking of your account. If someone hacks into an account he or she will be able to view and use the information very easily. This could lead to the biggest threat of over sharing private information - identity theft. It would be too easy for an online computer criminal to use the information to fill out a loan application, guess a password security question or social engineer their way into your company's network. Sharing simple things like your favourite colour can tip off a hacker to try to see if you used that as a password on your account. Online computer criminals look to steal identities in obvious and not so obvious ways. An obvious way would be someone asking for your social security number. A not so obvious way is luring a user to click on a link that will allow the criminal to download all of the user's personal information..

  • ID Requests

VAMPhire.comNowadays, it more and more common for some websites to ask for ID, for example most professional modelling websites request models provide their IDs.  This allows the site to verify a users’ full name, date of birth and nationality. Do not panic, if asked to provide ID.  Often it is being requested for security and/or legal reasons, for example in the case of child protection.  If you get asked for ID, check why they are asking for it! If it fits with the website, then make a judgement call.

  • Photo Tampering

VAMPhire.comPhoto tampering is a big threat when it comes to posting photos online. Remember that inappropriate images that may be seen as fun or sexy might end up where one least expects it. The use of photo editing tools allows people to manipulate online images in any way they want, whether it's used for good or bad purposes. While posting pictures and sharing them with friends can be fun, it can also be risky, so always think what kind of photos you post online.

  • Phishing Emails

VAMPhire.comSocial networking sites make it very easy to pretend to be someone else. Even if an individual may be friends with someone on the site, anyone can take control of a user's account if he or she can obtain the user's password. As a result, someone who is a "Friend" can ask for money or gain personal information that can be used to hack into other accounts. For example, you may get a message from a relative asking you for your banking information because he or she would like to wire you some money for your birthday. You may think you're talking to your relative, but in fact the information is being requested by someone who has hacked into your relative's account..

  • Physical Safety

Location based services can be one of the most dangerous features provided by social networking sites. It exposes the profile user's location and whereabouts. The service also has a feature that allows users to tag who they are with at any given time. While it can be fun to share your location with friends and family, it can also increase your vulnerability, potentially opening you up to being robbed, sexually assaulted, or worse. Predators can use this tool to track your movements and determine when you are alone or when you are not at home.

  • Viruses

Because of the popularity of social networking sites, attackers often use them to distribute malicious code. Online predators are able to create customized applications that appear to be innocent while infecting your computer or sharing your information without your knowledge. Viruses or spyware can be contained within message attachments or photographs. They also can be spread via fake emails from social networking sites or people's and companies' posts that encourage you to visit fraudulent or inappropriate websites.

  • Cyber Bullying and Cyber Stalking

Sometimes people use social networking sites to abuse or harass other people. Both Cyber Bullying and Cyber Stalking might cause psychological, emotional and physical stress and can lead to depression and other mental health issues.


  • Online Grooming

Unfortunately, social networking sites are often used by internet predators to groom kids, teenagers and adults. They build an emotional connection with people to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation. Online grooming can force people into doing something they shouldn't do, e.g. participating in sexual acts or joining an ideological movement. This can cause psychological, emotional, physical and social distress and might lead to other mental health issues.

  • Prosecution or recrimination

Posting offensive or inappropriate content might lead to prosecution or recrimination and in some cases can take you to jail.


Safe Social Networking

You can also avoid these risks and enjoy using social networking sites by following a few sensible guidelines:-


» Limit the amount of personal information you post!

Nowadays micro blogging tools like:- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networking sites make it easy to let details slip you wouldn't otherwise tell friends or strangers.

  • Don't put any away messages on your telephone number, just as you wouldn't put a note on your front door stating:- "Away for the weekend… Returning on Monday."

  • When you choose a profile picture for a social networking website like Facebook or Twitter, avoid photos that could give strangers clues about where you live. Always keep in mind that posting personal information that can identify and locate you offline can seriously harm your physical safety.

  • If your connections post information about you, make sure the combined information is not more than you would be comfortable with strangers knowing.

  • Think before you post.

  • Remember that the internet is a public resource and once you post information online, you can't retract it. Even if you remove the information from a site, saved or cached versions may still exist on other people's machines. What goes online stays online.

  • Only post information you are comfortable with anyone seeing.

  • Do not post anything that might later cause you or someone else embarrassment. Remember that many companies routinely view current or prospective employees' social networking pages, so be careful about what you say, what pictures you post and your profile.

    » Be wary of strangers
    • The internet makes it easy for people to misrepresent their identities and motives!

    • Consider limiting the people who are allowed to contact you.
      If you interact with strangers, be cautious about the amount of information you reveal or agreeing to meet them in person.

    • Be wary about who you invite or accept invitations from. Accepting only people you know can protect you from spammers, paedophiles, and other people who use social networking sites to commit crimes. Its not just children who can be targeted!

    • If you receive an email from a stranger, think before clicking on a link or an attachment - it could contain a virus.

    » Evaluate your settings


    Take advantage of a site's privacy settings. Use the privacy features to restrict strangers' accessing your profile.

    On most social sites you find 3 levels of privacy settings to choose from, for your profile. There is
    "open to everyone," "open to friends of friends" and "friends only." The best setting to use is the "friends only" setting on all of your privacy choices. It only allows people that you have accepted as a friend to view information about you. These setting names might change from site to site, so alway
    s look the meaning us before you start using the site!

    • Some sites may share information such as email addresses or user preferences with other companies. If you don't want them to share your personal data, make sure that you tick the appropriate boxes in the settings.

    • Keep in mind that sites may change their options periodically, so review your security and privacy settings regularly to make sure that your choices are still appropriate.


    » Be wary of 3rd party applications

    VAMPhire.com3rd party applications may provide entertainment or functionality, but use caution when deciding which applications to enable.


    • Avoid applications that seem suspicious, and modify your settings to limit the amount of information the applications can access.

    • Be careful about clicking on links in an email or social networking post.

    • Use strong passwords.

    » Protect your account with passwords that cannot easily be guessed

    • Use a mix of letters and numbers.

    • Never share or reveal your passwords.

    • Change your passwords regularly and do not use the same passwords for multiple accounts.

    • Keep software, particularly your web browser, up to date.

    Install software updates so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available, you should enable it.

    Use and maintain anti-virus software

    Anti-virus software helps protect your computer against known viruses, so you may be able to detect and remove the virus before it can do any damage. Because attackers are continually writing new viruses, it is important to keep your definitions up to date.

    Do not connect to unsecure Wi-Fi hotspots


    Connecting to public WiFi networks implies that you're sharing a network with tons of other people, which means your data is at risk. It's remarkably easy to steal someone's username and password, or see what they're doing just by being on the same network.

    • Turn Off Sharing.

    • Enable Your Firewall.

    • Use HTTPS and SSL Whenever Possible.

    • Turn Wi-Fi Off When You Aren't Using It.

    Note that if the sensitive browsing can wait; especially if it's something very sensitive like banking or credit card information; you should just wait to do that sensitive browsing at home.

    » Report inappropriate behaviour

    Remember that you have the right to block anyone who bullies you and report them to the social network so they can take down anything offensive.

    • Don't reply to any nasty messages you receive.

    • Keep the messages that you have been sent so you can show someone.


    » Never post offensive or inappropriate content

    Even if you're angry, do not post any comments that are abusive or may cause offence to either individuals or groups of society. You never know how it will affect someone and it won't be possible to take your words back.

    Search yourself

    It is a good idea to search your name on Google, Bing and other well known search engines. Check out your profile as others see it on social networking sites. You can also set up a Google alert with your name, which emails you when Google finds your name appearing online!

     If  you live in the EU, you can request information that in 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) passed a rule known as "Right To Be Forgotten." This ruled helps individuals to request that search engines to block results for queries that include the person's name, should the results show inaccurate, no longer relevant, or excessive information about them.   It is not a magic bullet as this request will then be looked at by the search engine provided in a way that must be balance an individuals right to privacy against public interest in protecting free expression and the free availability of information, consistent with European Law.  In some cases, should you find any problems, it's also worth contacting the website in question for help.  For more information about how to do this on Google click here. That page covers all Google product and services. Please search other search engines for their forms on "right to be forgotten" requests.

    With issues like Revenge Porn and other similar topics, most countries now how laws that can protect you. So again its worth doing a quick search online to find out your options.

    If you think we have missed anything or your think we should add more information, please let us know.

    Other pages you should look at on

    General Ethics  |  Proof Age and Identity  |  Protection Policy  | Working Alone  |  Self Employed Safety

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