Your Guide to Staying Safe on Social Media

photo d'une personne utilisant son téléphone pour aller sur les réseaux sociaux

Whether you’re looking to connect with your friends, share photos and updates, or network with other professionals in your field, you can believe that there is a social media site for you. And while these amazing resources allow you to meet, interact and share with people around the world, there are many cyber risks associated with using social media.

Even the most innocent information, like photos while on a trip, your plans for the upcoming weekend or job updates, should be thought of as oversharing in the age of social media.

Allstate Canada’s Cybersecurity team has provided some tips that are easy to follow and will help you stay secure online while making the most of your social media accounts.

Social Media Tips to Help Keep You and Your Loved Ones Safe

Think Before You Post

It can be easy to share virtually everything about yourself; it’s made even easier when social media sites prompt you to add your name, date of birth, where you live, etc. And while sharing some things can be beneficial, other facts can reveal too much and can be used against you.

  • For the sake of personal safety, NEVER reveal your date or place of birthhome addressor phone number, as this could put you at serious risk for identity theft and fraud
  • It’s also extremely important that you NEVER disclose your credit card numbers, banking information, passwords, or social insurance numberon ANY social networking sites. Cyber attackers often trick people into providing this information through phishing attacks, which could put you at risk for identity theft.
  • Be aware of what your family and friends are posting about you. You may have to ask others to remove what they share about you online.

Adjust your Privacy Settings

It may not seem like the most exciting thing to do, but it is still important to frequently review the privacy settings for all your social media accounts. They’re there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience.

Keep in mind that terms of service and privacy policies can change over time, so make it a habit to check and confirm that they align with how you want your personal data to be stored, managed and shared.

REMEMBER – even if you have secure settings for who can view your posts, all your information is still being collected, mined and stored on the social media platform’s servers.

Secure Your Accounts with a Passphrase

Secure your social media accounts with a long, unique passphrase, created with a combination of words or a sentence – not simply a password. Ensure that it is one that you can remember, unique for each site and hard for a cyber criminal to guess. Learn more about creating secure passphrases.

Where possible, add an extra layer of protection and enable multifactor authentication on your accounts – this is one of the most powerful ways to secure them.

Verify Who You’re Connecting With

It’s easy for anyone online to claim to be someone they’re not. If you’re ever unsure about the authenticity of an account that claims to belong to a friend or someone you know or even a company you do business with, always double check and verify they are who they say they are.

It is easy for a cyber attacker to create messages that appear to be from someone you know. In some cases, they can take over one of your friends’ accounts and then pretend to be them and reach out to you. 

Be particularly aware of instant messaging on the social platform X (formerly known as Twitter) and other messaging apps, where it is more difficult to get a sense of the sender’s personality.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out

Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cyber criminals try to trick you into giving them your personal information. Always read messages slowly and never click on a link, open an attachment, or use the contact information provided in suspicious messages. Even if you recognize the source, if something looks strange, delete it.

Technological advances have allowed us to connect with people in ways we’ve never been able to do so before. As exciting as it is to discover a new way to share major updates in your life, you should never forget to also take the proper security precautions before you create an account or post online.

It can go a long way in protecting you from a potential cyber attack.

Disclaimer: This information and the websites referenced are provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice. Allstate does not control or guarantee the accuracy of any content on any third-party site.  Allstate is not responsible for the privacy practices of any third-party site.