By Pierre Le Roux
This past weekend I just realized again that the Internet can be a dangerous place. Yes we access social media from the relative safety of our homes and offices and as such we are lulled into a false sense of security. However, on the Internet there are many dangers lurking in the dark crevices of your ASDL line, and there are many people out there with malicious motives looking to harm others. So I thought it appropriate to look at some ways we can protect ourselves on Facebook and measures we can take to ensure that we do not fall victim to people will sinister motives. Some of the security measures are simple but it can go a long way in protecting yourself from hackers, viruses, phishing and malware.
On Saturday I had the unfortunate experience of being accused of hacking someone’s account. I was utterly taken aback by the allegations and rightfully offended that I had to learn of the allegations from a third party. Deleterious allegations were made against me, but I did manage to contact the person who was hacked and I do believe that we came to an amicable understanding and the person realized that it was not me who hacked their account. But, this being said, this incident just again impressed upon me how careful we all must be while networking on Facebook.
Since I started my blog in 2009 I have fallen victim to several internet attacks by people who had issues with me and my blog. Since then I had my Facebook account disabled twice, suspended once, hacked once and there has also been several attempts to hack my blog too. To add insult to injury I have also received too many hate mails to count and I am sure that as I type this malicious reports are being send to Facebook about me. Unfortunately, this is the price you pay if you blog, especially if you blog about contentious issues and if there are people out there who hate you, your blog and hate the LGBT community. Some of them will go to any lengths to harm you physically and if they can’t do that, you will be attacked on the net. It’s all part of being a blogger.
Over the years, having been a target for cyber attacks I have done the best I can to protect myself and my Facebook interests. This first safety measure may seem like the simplest one but it really is your first line of defense. Make sure that you have a strong password. I really cannot emphasize this enough. “Password” is NOT an appropriate password and neither is your birthday. The stronger your password the better the chances are that your account will not be hacked. This also counts for any website you use where a log in password is required. Changing your password on a regular basis will also serve as additional security for your account. Also never give out your password to anyone, not even people you trust. You don’t give out your internet banking password so why should Facebook be any different?
Make use of secure browsing. It is important to enable this security feature on Facebook to secure your private information. When you enable this feature your traffic on Facebook becomes encrypted which makes it harder for hackers and spammers to gain access to your information without your permission. Never click on suspicious links. It could ruin your day. Many people’s Facebook account have been hacked by these links such as the “Dislike button”, “Pink Facebook”, “Check out this shocking video” and “Look Who Viewed My Profile” to mention but a few. The moment you click on these links your profile is compromised and everyone on your friends list can also become victims. When such a link is posted on your profile delete it immediately and warn your friend whose profile posted it to change their password right away.
Be mindful of what email you use for Facebook. The email you use for Facebook should be distinct from the one you use where security is more critical – such as online banking and Paypal accounts. If you use the same email on all these platforms and your Facebook account gets hacked your more secure account could then also be vulnerable and the result could be costly. Also be careful of phishing scams. Should you have accidentally clicked on a malicious link or app you normally will get directed to a mirror site that is almost a perfect copy of Facebook’s log in page and you will be asked to log in again. When you do this your email address and password gets recorded and you just gave a hacker all they needed to hack your account. This is why it is very important to always check the URL. Make sure it reads https://www.facebook.com. Phishing site’s websites’ URL will always be different and may look like www.facckbook.com. So watch out for this.
If you have a group or fan page on Facebook make sure that you have another admin on your group or page, someone that you trust. If your account gets hacked, disabled or suspended and you don’t have another admin your group/page will be a ship drifting in the ocean without a captain and it can easily be hijacked. Having an alternative admin will prevent this. When your account is suspended by Facebook all the posts you ever made on Facebook will also disappear until your account is restored. Facebook does this as an emergency measure when accounts are hacked to prevent unauthorized posts being made. When my account was hacked posts where made on my profile that were horrifically homophobic. This is how my friends knew to warn me that my account was hacked. My account then went dark until I reclaimed it again (click HERE to read the four things you should do if your profile is hacked).
These are just a few safety tips that I think we can all benefit from when using Facebook. There are many more like adjusting your privacy settings and reviewing what apps have access to your account. But I think the ones I mention in this post are the most important ones that everyone should apply to their accounts today. My friend’s account that was hacked was a real eye opener for me. Apart from the fact that I was blamed for it, and I know nothing about hacking, it is unfortunate that it happened. I don’t know why there are people out there who do things like this or what hackers think they achieve by their actions. But it is sad and a very scary that we have to go to these extends to protect ourselves from them. So my kind readers (the ten of you), please go to your Facebook accounts today and make them safe.
Till next time.
Pierre Le Roux's full blog can be read HERE!