Social Media and Home Protection: 3 Tips to Stay Safe While Sharing

Opinion: How often do we stop to think about how vulnerable we get by sharing so much?

Daily social media activities can expose us to another more displeasing world of stalkers, burglars and other nefarious people. To stay safe, we’ll need to be more vigilant about what we share and how we share it.

From ideas, thoughts, inspirational messages and photos, right to the short pieces that we caption “#NoteToSelf,” we like to share everything on social media. And it’s funny because the more we seem to be sharing on social media, the less we seem to do so in real life.

But how often do we stop to think about how vulnerable we get by sharing so much?

The policies governing social networks make the very nature of social media a vulnerability on the side of the user. Maintaining your privacy becomes a difficult thing to achieve with every sign-up and every “allow” button you click. What’s more is that we remain oblivious—dare I say unconcerned—about the dangers we face. Cyber-stalking is on the rise and predators are stepping up their game.

However, we can remain safe amid all that. We can be pragmatic about what we let slip through to online spaces to ensure that malicious people don’t have enough information to get to us.

We’ll share three tips that will help ensure that your social media life doesn’t compromise your other, more important, life: your home.

Avoid publishing personally identifiable information

Content shared on social media is one of the biggest avenues for cyber-criminals to get to you. If someone can see your posts and those in which you’re tagged, they can tell where you are any time you share.

Most social media channels have the geotagging feature. As such, you’ll find that it’s kind of a trend to include location data in status updates. While this offers some degree of personalization to your posts, it could also put your home in danger.

According to Jonathan F. Marshall, a criminal lawyer from Ocean County Criminal Lawyers, criminals could even exploit your profile, as well. He said:

Your posts aren’t the only source of personal information that can be exploited by cyber-criminals. Your profile is also a target. What kind of information do you have? Using the information displayed such as your company, your friends, family members, etc., criminals can join the dots to get to you.

That said, keep to sharing only the most relevant information, such as skills and your current workplace. Remember that criminals piece together snippets of information about you before they are certain. Career information—which you need to have on your social media profiles—in itself would be hard to give you away. But when coupled with other pieces of needless information, it can be damaging.

Turn off geolocation on all of your posts and, if you have to, post vacation photos only after you return from the vacation. Posting during the vacation gives criminals a window of opportunity to your home.

Regularly review privacy settings on your accounts to make sure that only people who need to see and/or react to your posts do so. If in doubt, don’t post it at all.

Social engineering is also one of the most common methods used to reach users. Other than passively lurking in your social profiles, criminals actively interact with you to get you to reveal details about yourself. Don’t respond to any other email that says you have issues in your account.

Use a virtual private network

The popular belief is that VPNs are only for those who want unrestricted access to the internet. But they can be much more.

Using a VPN is one of the most effective ways to ensure your online security.

According to Pool Guard president Michael Corkery:

Cyber-criminals are advancing their techniques. They don’t just look through your profiles to see what you’re up to. They can actually hack your social media accounts to gain entry into your home and your life. And if you think you’re too “ordinary” to be hacked, think again, then go check your email spam folder. What do you think all those Hotmail addresses are up to?

With a good VPN service, you can remain anonymous as you surf the web. The service masks your IP and tunnels your data through a server network, making it almost impossible for anyone to track your activities online.

The addictive nature of social media leads people to log in whenever there’s Wi-Fi, without realizing the dangers. Using a VPN means making all of your browsing sessions private at all times.

You also don’t have to worry about compatibility issues, as VPNs are compatible across all platforms and all devices.

Use security software

More than 300,000 malicious files are created every day, according to Kaspersky Lab. Just about seven years ago, this number was 200,000.

Exactly how common have these attacks gotten? Another report from Kaspersky says that one-fifth of phishing scams are primarily targeted on Facebook. But the problem isn’t just because of system flaws. For instance, 28 percent of social media users don’t review their privacy settings. This leaves everything they post public.

The internet is littered with malicious software. From spyware to adware, your personal information is at risk. These malicious apps steal personal information, passwords and other sensitive data without your knowledge.

To protect yourself from such attacks, arm yourself with security software like McAfee or Kaspersky that can not only automatically scan your devices and detect any viruses, but also guarantee you a safe browsing experience—even if you have to pay for it.

Are you giving away the keys to your home? Social media has come a long way, albeit a little too fast. We must be equally aware of the looming dangers. It’s hard, but do you think it’s time we started going on vacations without telling our 4,000 friends and 20,000 followers and lose the likes, comments and confidence boost? I’d say it is.

James Jorner is a content strategist and marketer at Effective Inbound Marketing. His company specializes in online branding and digital marketing for businesses.

Image courtesy of iLexx/iStock.