The internet is full of information, but it can also be dangerous. Learn how to keep your family safe online.
Social media offers many ways to build relationships and share conversations, information and images with others online.
Friendly social media interactions can invite unwelcome guests to find out all about you for criminal gain, or to cause you damage.
Why do you need to protect your social media profile?
While it has never been so easy to connect with friends, family and colleagues from around the world, unfortunately, people with malicious intentions are also drawn to social media because it’s easy to access personal information. The more you share, the more visible you are to everyone.
If your social media privacy settings are public, or if you connect with people you don’t know, you could become a target. Social media platforms encourage people to connect. Your connections offer cyber criminals an opportunity to target you, and potentially infect your entire social network.
The ease of being able to set up a social media account under any name, in any location to connect with people, offer customised apps and share links, means that social media can be a treasure trove of information for criminals.
Visit the Australian Government Office of the eSafety Commissioner to find out more about social engineering.
Personal information you must protect from social media
To maximise the security of your social media, you should never share the following things.
Don’t publish personal identity details including your birthdate, passport, drivers licence, financial information or even the names of your children, spouse or pets.
Never share information that reveals your home address. Protect postal box locations too.
If your social media network only includes people that you know, they should know how to contact you. If not, they can message you.
Never share information that identifies where you are. That includes dates that you’ll be away on holiday or travelling for work.
If you’re attending or hosting a private event, don’t share the details.
What you share on the internet could be available forever, to anyone. Police suggest not sharing images of children.
A funny or embarrassing personal story could be taken out of context and used against you.
Use your social media as you would if you were socialising at a public event. You wouldn’t overshare personal information when surrounded by people you don’t know.
The consequences of oversharing
If you’re accepting social media connection requests without knowing the people you’re bringing into your personal or business life, and you’re sharing personal information openly, you could become a target for:
- social engineering scams
- malware attacks
- identity theft
- business data being stolen or corrupted
- your images being shared inappropriately
- burglary, robbery or physical assault
- putting your social media connections at risk.
Steps to take to secure your social media
You can take steps to minimise social media risks.
Only connect with people you know
Criminals set up fake social media profiles and send connection requests with a goal to steal personal information. To stay safe, only connect with people or organisations you actually know. This, along with tightening up your privacy and security settings, is the safest way to use social media.
Customise privacy and security settings
Each social media platform offers a range of privacy and security settings. Visit the support pages of the social media site to find out how to customise your settings to the highest level of privacy available.
Use strong passwords and activate two factor authentication
Use strong passwords. Most social media platforms also offer a two step authentication option – for example adding your mobile phone number so you have to verify every log in attempt by using a One Time Password (OTP). This adds another layer of protection for you.
What to do if your social media account has been attacked
Here are the steps you need to take to protect yourself, and your social media connections.
- If you believe your identity is at risk, visit How to keep your identity safe online to find out what to do.
- Contact the social media site and report the incident.
- Change your password immediately and set up two factor authentication via the security settings on your social media account.
- Let your social media connections know you’ve been attacked, so they can be wary of any messages they receive that appear to be from you.
Where to go for assistance
- Office of the eSafety Commissioner > Social media safety centres
- Attorney-General’s Department > Protecting and recovering your identity
- iDcare > Toolbox