My names Michelle and I am a social media addict. Okay, so addict may be a bit of an over exaggeration, but like any stereotypical millennial, I love a bit of online socialising; Instagram, Twitter (work, and personal FYI), Facebook and even Linkedin- I would say I spend a reasonable portion of my day to day life online. I’m not ashamed to admit it, either. As technology continues to develop around us, our online presence has become more distinct, and in some ways pretty important. Prospective employers use it to seek us out, and we keep connected with friends and family far and wide, who we may not be able to be connect with, without it. And it’s not just our personal and work life that benefit- we can shop, and keep up to date with current affairs as they happen- just about everything is at our fingertips. In all honesty, is it such a bad thing to utilise the tools we have so easily at our disposal? Probably not (I write while searching for memes on twitter).
Of course, with so many of us online, we must remember- the bad guys are there too. Lurking in their deep dark hideouts of the wider web, there are some individuals waiting to use our social media accounts for their own sneaky gain- sometimes with criminal intentions, and sometimes just for the weird kick they seem to get out of Instagram hacks (I mean, poor Bieber right!? No one wanted to see that!) I know you’re probably thinking, “this kind of thing only happens to famous people”, but trust me, that is just not true; the latest Instagram hack resulted in six million people’s details being stolen, and sold for $10 a pop on the dark net (personally, I’d say we’re all worth a bit more than that, but hey!) The increase in these kinds of attacks really does illustrate just how vulnerable we all are online.
Before I started at Eskenzi, I was the kind of person that fell for an Instagram phishing email, or used my forename as my password for pretty much all my accounts- I’m still surprised that I was never the victim of some kind of hack. However the last five months has made me completely rethink my attitudes towards how I look after my personal information online. I now realise that our data is worth something and isn’t just floating around safety in the cloud- we should look after it, just the same as we do when we’re out and about with our ID’s, bankcards, and large wads of cash (we can dream…)
So, just what can we do exactly? It goes without saying, never ever give out your information to someone you can’t verify- NEVER give out your password. The other tips I have learnt from experts in the industry would be:
- Don’t reuse your passwords If you happen to visit one site, and your password happens to get stolen, the bad guys can just try all your other accounts; if it’s the same, well- you’ve done the hard work for them.
- Avoid weak passwords. Yes, this means no more Password, Password1, or your name! The easier they appear to be, then clearly, the easier they are. Think of a unique combination that only you know.
- Password Managers They can generate, store generate them for you- pretty handy, and very safe!
- Two Factor Authentication is a third process which validates you- you usually have to enter your standard username and password, and then has a second authentication method. (FYI, Instagram now has this little tool available to all users)
- PATCH AND UPDATE! The NHS was bought to a standstill because of unpatched systems; if they can wreak havoc in such a huge organisation, your social media accounts are about as safe as Moleman in The Simpsons- not very. Keeping it up to date closes those little vulnerabilities that hackers can take advantage of to gain access into your accounts.
All in all it is up to us to realise- it is our responsibility to protect and manage our online social life. The tips above will certainly get you part way there, but be savvy! There is an I in security guys, so lets get it together and sort it out; before our Facebook profile starts randomly inviting our parents to some NSFW websites (facepalm).
By Michelle Marriott – Account Executive at Eskenzi