What’s risky behaviour on social media? - BullGuard


Imagine this: while surfing the web, you run into a last-minute city-break deal. The offer is so good that you just can’t resist it. So you book it on the spot.


You’re so excited that you immediately write a post on your Timeline: “Found an amazing city-break deal. This weekend I’m off”. Next thing you know, you come back from your trip only to find your apartment turned up-side-down by burglars. This is just an example of how your actions on social networks can leave you exposed to all sorts of dangers, putting at risk not only your internet security but your physical security as well. Find it hard to believe? According to ConsumerReports.org (June 2012), 4.8 million people used Facebook to share their plans for a certain day - a detail that could tip off burglars, 800,000 minors were harassed or bullied on Facebook and 11% of the households using Facebook had trouble, ranging from someone using their log-in without permission, to being harassed or threatened in 2011. In addition, the fact that social networks collect lots of sensitive information about you and have the ability to distribute it faster and more widely than traditional data-gathering firms adds privacy violation to the string of internet security (and physical security) threats posed by non-rational behaviour in social media. Have you ever wondered how much information is really collected? Or who is it shared with? And why?



What is risky behaviour on social networks anyway?


Here’s a list of social networking actions that may have terrible outcomes, accompanied by the most common security threats they may pose.


1. Sharing everything with everybody. Actions that fall in this category are:

  • Checking in from every place you go to, including regularly checking in from the gym, favourite restaurant etc., thus creating a profile of yourself easily traceable by stalkers.
  • Sharing photos taken with your phone, which are tagged with the exact location details of where the photo was taken.
  • Sharing photos of you drunk or in other seemingly funny situations that can actually turn into compromising evidence of inappropriate behaviour.
  • Leaving your full birth date, phone number and home address on your public profile for everyone to see, including ill-intended strangers.
  • Discussing personal problems with friends (and worse, with strangers) through public comments. Do you really want the world to know details about your personal dramas?



Security and privacy threats: Identity theft, home break-ins, cyberstalkers, and for kids and teens on social networks: cyberbullies and child predators.


Some internet security experts argue that social networks, Facebook in particular, have become the “school yard of cyberbullies”. According to other experts’ concerns, social networks, it seems, take peer pressure at a whole new level: some teens may not only witness cyberbulling but they may actually join it. Similarly, seeing other “friends” having fun while drinking, they may develop a drinking behaviour as well.



2. Ignoring privacy settings. Security and privacy threats: ruined online reputation, cyberstalkers, cyberbullies, child predators.


3. As a teen, lying about your age and setting dates with strangers offline. Offline threats: cyberstalkers, child predators.


4. Clicking on every link you come across. Internet security threats: malware infections, phishing sites.


5. Answering every quiz/survey that pops up. Internet security threats: phishing attempts, identity theft.


6. Falling for online freebie scams and making fake purchases. Or jumping at the opportunity. Internet security threats: malware infections, phishing sites.


7. Installing all sorts of apps (that collect information about you and share it with third-parties) without checking their developer first. Internet security threats: malware infections, identity theft.



Now, what is safe behaviour on social networks?


The actions listed above are definitely social networking “No-Nos”.

Here are 12 simple rules you may want to follow if you want to ensure that your behaviour, and that of your kids and teens, for that matter, don’t put your security and privacy at risk.


3. Do not friend total strangers.


4. For every photo, post, status you share on social networks, do the “granny test” and ask yourself: how would grandma feel about it? If you wouldn’t want her to see it, don’t post it.


5. Don’t share posts about you going on vacation. But do post about it when you’re back, if you want to.


6. Beware of Facebook malicious links to fake videos and photos posted by strangers. If they are accompanied by some outrageous news, event or celebrity gossip written in poor grammar, avoid or delete them from your profile. These types of posts may direct you to phishing sites or start an automatic malware download to your PC once you click on them. Also, be wary of such links and photos shared by your friends – they may have been infected with a Facebook “auto-sharing virus”.


7. Be careful with answering quizzes and surveys. Is it a site-sponsored quiz/survey? Who’s it run by? You may get caught up in a Facebook/Pinterest survey scam and fall victim to a phishing attempt.


8. Make sure you have proper internet security installed on your PC that comes with a Safe Browsing tool for Facebook. The Safe Browsing feature in BullGuard Internet Security 12 flags malicious links on Facebook and on most popular search engines to always keep you protected. At the same time, the proactive antivirus engine in BullGuard’s internet security suite spots and removes even the newest threats, thanks to its Behavioural-Detection feature.


9. Limit the number of Facebook apps you allow to use your information. You never know whose hands that information may end up in.


10. For every social media account you create, choose a different password that has at least 8 characters, and includes numbers, upper case and lower case letters.


11. Always ask your friends for permission to tag them in photos or check them in to places.


12. Check your online social exposure regularly – a simple “Google yourself” once in a while will do.

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