Want to be private and secure on Facebook and social media? Think again, by using those sites you agree to give up privacy, and risk security.
How To Secure Facebook Account From Hackers
If I had to make a list of the top websites to collect your data, invade your privacy and put you at risk while on the Internet Facebook would definitely be in the top 5, if not the top 3, right after Google and Amazon. They can’t help but do it, it is what they are all about; tracking people’s use of the Internet in order to provide an enhanced, streamlined, personalized experience unlike any other on the net. Facebook, in particular, is a notorious collector of data that has tailored the entire experience to the creation, collection and analysis of who we are and what we do while using the web.
Think about it, the very act of opening an account with Facebook or any other social media involves giving up your info, creating a profile, and then filling it with all the pertinent information about yourself that you can. It’s naive to think it’s not getting collected, however innocently and with “your best interests” in mind, and irresponsible to do nothing about it. The risks are myriad and not limited to collection and possible loss of data. Social media provides an inroad for hackers and black-hats of all varieties, and works hard to keep their target markets engaged and using the site day after day.
Risks Posed By Social Media
Social media poses so many risk to you, your family, your business and the Internet in general it would take books to outline and discuss them all. Social media brings people together on the Internet. It creates a virtual crowd and like real crowds, they attract crime. When it comes to the Internet crime ranges from information theft to financial fraud and nowhere is it more prevalent than with social media. When it comes to network safety not only do users have to worry about the connection they make with social media Facebook they have to worry about all the connections other people make with Facebook and all the connections Facebook makes with itself and the hundreds of apps and websites that make the Facebook experience what it is.
This information is shared with people you communicate with, people that seen content shared about you, Apps/websites/third-party integrations using Facebook services, sharing within Facebook companies, new owners, advertising, analytics services and vendors. It’s used to provide, improve and develop services, show and measure ad effectiveness, communication and finally to provide safety and security for Facebook users.
Important Social Media Security Tips
Bottom line, the only way to ensure complete anonymity and privacy while using social media is to avoid it at all costs. That being said, there are some things you can do while using social media and Facebook in particular to help you and your family remain safe. Following you will find our list of tips for improving Facebook account security.
Tips For Facebook Privacy
- Don’t make random friends.
There are lots of bots and trolls on the Internet using Facebook and social media to meet their next mark. Be sure that all “friends” are actually people you know, and people you want to actively be friends with. Don’t forget, your friends can see what you see. A popular scam called catphishing is particularly suited for social media. You meet someone online, you become friends, one thing leads to another and you’ve been hacked, had your ID stolen or given money to a fraud.
- Don’t share.
If you want to be sure that Facebook knows what kind of things you are into definitely share those little memes and whatnot’s that pop up in every Facebook feed. If you care about maintaining some privacy and limiting the amount of data you generate about yourself then you need to control your sharing. Limit shares to items of real worth such as news (not fake news), or other articles, or posts you make yourself. You can also control who sees what you share in your account settings.
- Don’t like.
The same as with sharing, each time you like something you are generating data about yourself. To limit this, limit your likes to things of substance such as real news, pictures of your friend’s baby and updates from friends or organizations you are a member of.
- Don’t use the apps.
One of the tricks Facebook uses is the apps. The apps enhance the experience for sure, but they also enhance your use of Facebook and the degree of entanglement with your data and information. Be very selective, try to avoid pointless games and be very wary of those that want you to “log in using Facebook”.
- Don’t use Facebook as your log-in.
Keeping track of all the different login information required for all the websites we use these days is a pain, I know. Using Facebook as your login for those sites could lead to a bigger pain. Not only does it give Facebook a chance to collect some juicy statistics and information about you, it opens the door for hackers and black hats who will have no compunctions about entering your device/system and doing what they will.
- Use a burner profile.
Social media, Facebook, is fun. It is. No doubt about it. That’s why it is so successful. They’ve managed to turn a service into entertainment and used the whole thing to camouflage a demographic data churning powerhouse. To get the most of it the onion approach works best, there are layers and layers of Facebook that can be enjoyed separately. You may want to keep a primary profile for close friends and family, maybe one for work if you need it, and then another for general use, one intended for the sole purposes of enjoying all guilty pleasures that Facebook has to offer, guilt free.
- Properly adjust your settings.
You don’t want just anyone looking at you, your pictures, your friends or what you do. Adjusting your settings can’t completely anonymize you but it will help.
- Don’t post any pictures you don’t want to find somewhere else.
Facebook has a fairly strict image policy and will not allow just anything to be posted. That being said it is still possible to post images and video content that could be construed as indecent, illegal, immoral or otherwise damaging to you, your reputation or standing in your community and you don’t want that. It’s also possible for someone else to troll your account, find your images on Facebook, steal them and then use them to advertise the kinkiest porn, just as an example. You can adjust account settings to reduce the exposure your images get but it is still possible someone could find them, take a quick screen shot and re-post it wherever they want, so be careful what you post.
How To Secure Social Media Accounts
While it is clear that Facebook and social media pose many risks for Internet users it is equally clear that Internet users are not likely to quit social media. This means each and every user needs to embrace social media security and that is a two-pronged attack. The first prong is to use the best and most secure methods of accessing the Internet. This means firewalls, anti-virus protection and a trusted VPN service such as Le VPN to ensure device and connection safety. The second prong is to use social media best practices which means adjusting your account settings for maximum privacy, limiting your “friends” to people you actually know and want to be in contact with, and limiting the content you like, follow and share.
Facebook Privacy Settings To Change For A Safer, More Secure Experience
How to improve Facebook privacy and security is a question often asked. The first step is to adjust your account settings so that only those you want can see, find, search or read your posts, pictures and other information. These can be found by clicking the down arrow at the top right of the upper tool bar and going to the Settings heading. When setting up an account, or for general knowledge and preparation in the battle for net security, it is important to go through the entire list to understand what is allowed, and to get an idea of just how exposed you are. The following is a quick walk-through of what is available and key Facebook privacy settings tips.
- General Settings
The first category is General Settings. This is your username, your Facebook URL, your contact email address, password/reset and a few other basic details. The next category in the list is called Security and while it does provide some additional measures to ensure your account is secure from the outside it does little to protect your privacy or enhance your security from threats with Facebook. Security settings include log-in alerts in case someone else logs into your account, a variety of two-step authentication procedures, limited encryption, special passwords for apps, recognized devices, trusted contacts, profile picture log-in, legacy contact and the best feature they offer, deactivate your account.
- Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication requires a second layer of authentication beyond the user-name/password combination. This is to help ensure that no third party user is able to access your account without your knowledge, the idea being that if they had your password they would also have to be able to access your email account, be in possession of your phone or have an additional security key in order to log-in. The ironic part is that they use a “special” app to help you set-up your own app to manage your new security key features, entangling you, your data and your security efforts deeply within the Facebook infrastructure.
- OpenPGP Public Key
OpenPGP Public Key is a method of encrypting the email notifications you get from Facebook. It uses an open-source standard to generate individual keys for users so that all email you receive from Facebook is safe from outside influence. This is great but once again fails to really do anything to protect Facebook users, after all the name PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy not really good or the best privacy. For one thing, how many emails do you get from Facebook anyway? I know I don’t get that many and if I did, I’d disable them. For another, how important are emails you get from Facebook? It’s not like they are sending you crucially sensitive information, providing an access point for hackers and malware is more like it.
- App Passwords
App passwords is yet another so-called security feature that does little to protect Facebook users. All it does is allow you to use individual passwords for each of the apps you may normally access with your Facebook log-in. These include Skype, Xbox, Spotify, Happn and others that you probably already have a password for anyway. The best part is that once again you get to use a handy Facebook app to help you generate and manage all your new passwords.
- Recognized Devices
Recognized devices is one of the double-edged sword kind of things. It allows Facebook to recognize your log-in from primary devices in order to bypass the ordinary log-in and security features. It basically negates any of the previous security tips on your phone, lap-top, tablet or PC so that when you, or anyone else, goes to Facebook they are instantly granted access to your account.
- Trusted contacts
Trusted contacts is a useful feature. It allows you to name a few of your closest contacts as people who can vouch for your ID in the case you have forgotten your password. The profile picture log-in is a little worthless. It allows you to click you profile picture instead of entering your user name, and then the password to log-in. The legacy contact is the go-to person for Facebook in the event something happens to you. The best feature for ensuring Facebook security though is the Deactivate Account.
- Privacy Settings
The Privacy Settings Feature is more fluff that does little to really enhance, ensure or protect your privacy while using Facebook. They come in three categories; who can see my stuff, who can contact me and who can look me up. The first category includes three subsets: who can see my posts, timeline review and altering previous posts to just friends. Who can see your posts can be limited to Public (everyone), friends of friends (a lot of people), friends or a custom list of people you do and do not want to see your posts. This is great because it does limit the range of your posts but does not ensure privacy or security.
- Timeline Review
The timeline review allows you to go back over your timeline including your posts, posts that others have made on your timeline and any posts you are tagged in. You can edit, alter who can see the posts or even hide posts from others that you might not like. The caveat is that the posts will really only be removed from your timeline, anywhere else they appear such as if they’ve been shared by someone else or posts you were tagged in will still be visible on Facebook and may turn up in search results.
- Range of Old Posts
Limiting the range of your old posts is another seemingly good feature that does little to actually help your Facebook privacy or security. It changes the range on all your old posts to friends only. Great, but all those old posts are still visible to friends and they may have already been shared, liked or saved by an unlimited number of people.
- Who Can Contact You
Who Can Contact me is really just a setting for who can request to Friend me. This is semi-helpful in that can limit your contact requests to people already within the network of your friends. The caveat is that there is no telling how any of your current friends have their account set up, who they’ve allowed to be their friends or their risk in terms of Internet safety.
- Who Can Look You Up
Who can Look Me Up limits the ability of people to find you on Facebook using your email address or phone number. These features can be set just like the Who Can See My Posts settings to allow everyone, a few people or no people to find you when searching. This feature is particularly useful for public figures or others who may attract attention.
- Timeline & Tagging Settings
The Timeline and Tagging Settings allows you to limit who can post to your timeline, who can see your timeline and how posts you’ve been tagged in can be viewed by the public. To maintain the tightest control of your content set these to Friends only, or to a set of your closest friends. The Blocking feature allows you to block content, contacts and views from specific individuals, apps, websites and invites from groups, apps, pages or events.
Notifications is a setting that may not seem like a security feature but it is. It is where you manage and control the amount and flow of email you get from Facebook, as well as how you manage your ability to keep up with yourself on the platform. Most apps and features will send you an email, such as when you get a friend request, have an upcoming birthday or when people like your posts. Some of these settings include how you are contacted when people post to your timeline, share your posts or tag you in their posts. If your security is of concern then knowing how your name, family or business is associated with Facebook content is very important.