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Thursday, October 27, 2011

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Keeping Yourself Protected

By Agent Laura G.

   Social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook have risen in popularity as they keep you constantly plugged in and connected.  It’s great to be able to tweet about your recent antics or keep in touch with family members continents apart, but there are some dangers lurking within Social Media sites and it’s important for people to know how to keep themselves protected.

 
In the last 48 hours there has been a resurgence of twitter accounts being hacked due to a familiar scam.  Typically, the user receives an at-reply or DM containing a link and a standard greeting.  This can vary from “Have you seen this blog?”, “Hey, is this you!?”, or “LOL!” with a link in the message.  Unsuspecting twitter users click the link only to find their account spamming the same message to their friends and their password compromised.  Here at Geek Squad we have compiled a few tips and tricks for keeping your various social media accounts safe.

 

 

Make sure your account has a strong password, and never share it.

Use capital letters, numbers, and do not include easy to guess words such as your favorite actor or color.  Do not use the same password for multiple sites, and be sure to change your password every 90 days.  Also, never share this password with anyone, even if they claim to be an employee of the company.  Remember, these companies will never ask you directly, if they really worked there wouldn’t they have access already?

 

If you use apps, only allow trusted applications access to your account.

There are apps written specifically to get your information and hack your account.  If you have an app you want to use, make sure it is endorsed by the social media network [such as Twitter] before you use it.  Don’t grant every interesting app that comes your way access to your account.

 

Be careful where you access your social networks.

It is generally a bad idea to use your office or school network to access your social media accounts, as they can be targeted by malicious users for ’account harvesting’ or hacking.  Even worse are using publicly available computers like at the Library or on display at a store.  These computers are accessed by hundreds of people a day, just imagine what could happen if you forgot to log out!

 

Don’t click password reset links.

If you do get an email informing you your account security has been compromised and you are worried about the account, do not click the link in the email!  It is one of the original methods of hacking your account known as a phishing attempt.  Instead, visit the website directly through your web browser and change your password on your account page.

 

Don’t click random links messaged to you directly.

Today’s password scams are bit more complex.  They don’t need you to tell you their password, they just need you to click a link.  These links arrive as direct messages or in chat, frequently enticing you to click them with a “Hey check this out!” or “I saw this video/photo of you”, often from people you know.  If you get a message such as this ask the person who sent it about the message before you click the link.  These links often are a result of a spreading infection, and can potentially cause an infection on your own system or compromise your account.  They tend to be bad news, even if it is from your friend.  Send them a message or give them a quick call before you click.

 

These are some general ground rules to help keep your social media accounts safe.  Be sure to follow them and if you’re ever unsure about something, don’t click it before you verify it’s source.  Also, only accept friend requests from people you know, and be careful who you let follow you.  Obey these basic ground rules and you’ll be headed in the right direction to keep your accounts and your privacy safe!

 

-Virtual Agent Laura G.

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