By Catherine Powell
With only a little over two weeks left in the year, most people start to think about making their New Year’s resolutions. Some of the most popular ones include working out, losing weight, and saving money. The reason many of us create New Year’s resolutions is to try to get the year started on the right foot. While shedding a few pounds or learning to stick to a budget is laudable, I’d like to recommend a cyber-resolution that should be on everyone’s list: Social media discipline.
How social is too social? – Face it, social media is a kind of high-tech mirror, mirror on the wall that allows us to toot our own horn and share our accomplishments with the world. That being said, everyone needs to beware of the fact that you don’t want to share some personal information with just anybody. While the social nets have made the task of sharing our lives with friends and family, that doesn’t mean that the information you post is only going to be seen by those you love and trust the most. To keep you and your family’s personal information safe, I’ve come up with a few social resolutions for you:
1. If you value your privacy, you need to make password security a priority. – When was the last time you changed the password on your social nets? If the answer is, “A long time ago,” you should make sure you not only change your passwords, you should also be sure they’re at least 12-digits long and include a few capital letters, numerals, and at least one special digit such as an asterisk or pound sign. If your current passwords are ten digits or less, you risk not only having your personal information compromised, it’s possible that a hacker could take control of your site and lock you out. They can also rifle through your list of friends and followers to post clickbait purportedly from you that could contain malware.
2. Are your privacy and security settings up to date? – If it’s been years since you updated the security and privacy settings on your social nets, you could be giving away the keys to the castle without even realizing it. All social sites encourage users to share information with their followers. However, during the past couple of years, most social nets have given users the opportunity to filter the information available to the public. Chances are you were sent several notifications by the social nets you use that urged you to review and update the privacy and security settings. Hopefully, you heeded their advice and took the time to do so. If not, there’s no time to waste if you want to control who sees your posts, who can post to your timeline, who may contact you, and who gets to look you up.
3. How well do you police your social nets? – While many people like to brag about the large number of followers they have, all too many are more concerned with quantity rather than quality. This could prove to be their undoing. If you allow anyone and everyone to follow you, you run the risk of allowing unsavory or unscrupulous individuals to gain access to your personal information as well as your friends, family. and followers. What’s all too common is for online interlopers to abuse the privileges you provide them by requesting a connection from someone you don’t know. If you don’t police your social nets these online freeloaders will try to sell products or solicit donations from your followers. It’s also possible they may also post salacious or defamatory information on your timeline.
4. How security-savvy are you when it comes to social posts? – Do you use common sense to decide what information to disseminate to the masses and which to omit. Or, are you a social butterfly who longs to tell the world your innermost secrets? Posting anything and everything online is a perilous undertaking. Not only can it cost you personally and professionally, but it can give cyber criminals enough ammunition to rob your house or clean out your bank account. With identity theft being one of the banes of modern life, you need to keep your cards close to the chest if you want to stop the bad guys from robbing you blind. This means limiting the breadth and depth of information you post online. While it’s okay to let people know the day and month in which you were born, there’s no reason to post the year. While you may want your friends and family to know where you live, work. and worship, is this the kind of information you want to make public? While photo-sharing is popular, the last thing you want to share are photos of you and your family waiting for a plane at the airport. Posting travel plans is never a good idea since savvy thieves prowl the social nets instead of casing neighborhoods nowadays.
5. How security-savvy are your children when it comes to social posts? – As bad as some adults are at keeping tight-lipped about sensitive information, kids are even worse about online security. If you have children, you need to tell them what is and what isn’t appropriate to post online. Not only can their posts prove immediately harmful. but it can affect their future as well. It can even put their personal safety in jeopardy. We’ve all heard stories about cyberbullying and child molesters using the internet to befriend children. A seemingly harmless rant can come to haunt the child that posted it years later when applying for college admission or a job. Monitoring and mentoring are the best defense that parents can use to make sure their children practice safe online interaction. Just as you wouldn’t let your child get behind the wheel of a car without instruction and supervision, letting them freely roam through cyberspace without a roadmap is an equally perilous undertaking.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com