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8 tips to keep your social media sites secure

Is it worth the risk?
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Everyone seems to be jumping in the social media bandwagon these days. Whether it’s a multinational brand, a homegrown brand, or even a home-based business, social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have become the norm.

While joining these social networking sites is a good way for cost efficient marketing and advertising, it is not as safe as one might think. How dangerous could Facebook or Twitter get, right? Wrong.

According to Symantec, one of the primary attack techniques used on social networking sites involved the use of shortened URLs. These abbreviated URLs are usually used to efficiently share a link in an email or on a web page of an otherwise complicated web address. Last year, attackers posted millions of these shortened links on social networking sites to trick victims into both phishing and malware attacks, dramatically increasing the rate of successful infection.

In 2010, 65 percent of malicious links in news feeds observed by Symantec used shortened URLs. Of these, 73 percent were clicked 11 times or more, with 33 percent receiving between 11 and 50 clicks.

Symantec added that cyber-criminals take advantage of the false sense of security that social networks give users. Since social networks build on connections and communications, users are inclined to share personal information or click on links without hesitation. This leaves doors open to cyber-criminal attacks.

To ensure that the presence of your business in social networking sites is beneficial rather than a liability, Symantec suggests that you keep in mind these 8 tips.

1. Check the social networking site’s address and scrutinize a suspicious site’s security certificate to ensure you are logging into legitimate services and look for “HTTPS” in the address.

2. Think twice before entering your real birth date or other sensitive information on social networking sites. Even some information which might seem innocuous, like pets’ names or the street you grew up, can be used by a clever attacker to launch very convincing targeted attacks.

3. Check your privacy settings regularly to make sure your account and information is as secure as you think it is.

4. Don’t answer yes when prompted to save your password to a computer. Instead, rely on a strong password committed to memory or stored in a dependable password management program.

5. Don’t accept “friend” or “follower” requests from individual’s you don’t know.

6. Don’t click on links in messages, even if from a known “friend,” that seems strange or out of character. A common method used by attackers is to pose as a friend and send messages to users asking something like, “This you in this funny video?” However, there is in reality no video and when the user tries to open the “video” file, they are infected with malware.

7. Never post social networking messages indicating your location, especially if you’re away from home. In a similar vein, don’t post messages indicating you will be away from home on a specific date or time, such as being on vacation.

8. Report any suspicious or potentially malicious activity to the social networking site’s administrators.


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