Trend Micro
Social Networking Tips
Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites have revolutionized the way people communicate, making it easier than ever to interact with friends over the Internet. However, this new open communication has also come at a cost, in many instances, to people's privacy and making their sensitive information available to hackers.

In order to use social networks as securely as possible, Trend Micro has compiled tips on how to network safely on the most popular social sites.

Pinterest

The latest social networking site to take off, Pinterest, acts as a virtual pin board of photos and ideas you like online. Pictures and comments are not filtered, so inappropriate material and language can be shared.

Facebook

Facebook changed the social media landscape and is now more accessible than ever. However, that also makes Facebook a prime target for hackers looking to steal passwords, usernames and credit card information and pesky spammers looking to pollute your Facebook wall.

To prevent yourself from becoming a target on Facebook there are a few things you can do.

  • Switch over to HTTPS – An Https browser address indicates that you are browsing on a secure connection and enabling your Facebook account to use only a secure connection. This is especially helpful for people who access Facebook from public or shared computers. Learn more here.
  • Change your password frequently – Changing your passwords on your accounts should be something that you do on a regular basis to keep hackers at bay. Also, get creative with your passwords and add capitalized letters and numbers to make them more challenging and harder to crack.
  • Don't click on questionable links – Facebook hackers often use your friends to send you messages or wall posts with harmful links. Usually these can be detected if they seem uncharacteristic for your friends, but beware of generic messages such as "I just found the coolest video!" or "Do you remember when we did this?" If ever in doubt, ask them before you open something that could be potentially harmful. Also, be sure to notify Facebook and your friend when you see spam so you can both report it and keep it from spreading further.
  • Look at your options – Facebook provides a lot of account options and customizable profiles.Take advantage of these options and limit your personal information to people as you see fit.

Twitter

It only takes 140 characters to Tweet, but one bad shortened URL and you'll have to take your computer into the shop.

  • Watch out for shortened UTLs – Only click shortened URLs from trusted Twitter handles. It can be tempting to click on the "Banned Lady Gage" shortened video link from user EyeMusik41, but more often than not, tweets that sound too good to be true are just that. Shortened URLs can take you to sites that want you to input private information such as your email address which will be used for a phishing campaign or spam later or a third party who wants access to your Twitter account so they can post messages in your name.

LinkedIn

It's important to promote yourself professionally, just be careful of over sharing.

  • Don't post too much information – The biggest threat on LinkedIn is that hackers will search for private information, such as work history and your email address, allowing them to learn about you and making you susceptible to phishing attacks.

Google Plus

Google Plus makes privacy customization as easy as dragging friends into different colored circles. Just make sure you're reading up on how else you can protect your private information.

  • Use those circles! – The circles in Google Plus are there for a reason, so you can monitor who sees what. Make sure to only share private information with people who you trust.
  • Read up on customizations – Google Plus gives users a bevy of options including deciding who sees what, limiting your profile and hiding your connected accounts. Check out their options and think about what you want shown to the public.

YouTube

  • Flag inappropriate content – While YouTube does monitor their content, they give you the option to flag videos that are not appropriate in nature. If you see something that shouldn't be on YouTube, flag it.
Location Applications

While it can be fun to check in at places while out and about, keep in mind that you are sharing your location with all of your friends and followers. Even more importantly, checking in somewhere means you are not home and you are more susceptible to a break-in.

Facebook Places

It's more likely than not that some of your Facebook friends aren't truly good friends of yours and that you don't actually want them knowing where you are at all times. To combat this, you can customize who sees your check-ins by creating custom security settings. These settings will also enable you to decide who sees what on your profile. You can also disable Places entirely if you don't want to be checked in and your friends will not be able to check you into Places. Learn how to customize Facebook settings.

As a courtesy to others, always ask before you check someone in and be sure to never check in at a home location if you don't want your address or the address of your friends or families to become public.

FourSquare

It is much easier to limit who sees your check-ins on Foursquare as most people have less friends on FourSquare, however, the battle for the coveted title of "Mayor" can make your location and daily pattern more susceptible to danger. As people check in daily and battle for mayorship, one's daily patterns can be detected. If you want to fly under the radar, be sure to keep most of your check-ins limited to your friends and not to share check-ins on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Tips for Parents

There's one rule to live by when it comes to kids and social networks and that's to get involved. Live where your kids live; if they are on a social networking site, join, and make sure that you have full access to see what they post, who their friends are and be active in monitoring not only what's on their wall, but what they are posting.

Help protect your kids online:

It's no secret that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus can be used as a cyberbullying tool. Be sure to keep a close watch on your child's accounts to make sure that they are not being cyberbullied or are cyberbullying other kids. Make a deal with them that in order to have an account, they have to become your friend and let you see their full profile.

  • If you need a cheat sheet to Facebook, we recommend this site, A Parent's Guide to Facebook, that will walk you through everything you should know about Facebook.

Keep an eye on your kids' posts and make sure their posts are private. Sit down with them and go through their privacy customization options to ensure that what they post isn't shared over the entire Web.

If a social networking site has age filters, make sure your children use their real date of birth so they are not exposed to mature content.

As more kids join upcoming social networking sites, like Pinterest, watch out for instances of cyberbullying or mean comments on items pinned or posted.