No one can deny the large impact social media has had on the billions of people who have signed up to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp. It’s hard to imagine life without it, even if we sign off and disconnect for a while, we know that there is another world in the global phenomenon that is the World Wide Web.
This month marks 30 years since its creation. The creator of ‘www’, Tim Berners’ Lee, has written a letter calling for people around the world to help eliminate three specific areas of ‘dysfunction’. In it, he explains how it’s “created opportunity for scammers , given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit,” and therefore he’s calling on more action and regulation to monitor its misuse.
He’s right to call out for bigger powers to create new laws and regulations to tackle scammers, such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when more than 5,000 apps on Facebook were “whitelisted”, meaning users could gain special access to user data and the data of their Facebook friends.
In this huge web lurk digital scams, so we thought we’d put together a list of six ways to stop social media scams hacking your life:
As time consuming as it might seem, changing your password on your social, email and computer accounts regularly will prevent hackers from easily guessing the name of your pet, your boyfriend/girlfriend, or birthdays and anniversaries. Scammers are incredibly intelligent and will spend the time to look at your social media profile to gather information about you to guess passwords. So, it’s worth choosing something which is completely random and the longer the better – password managers can do this for you by generating random ones which you can save in a protected file on your device.
Your social media accounts can be connected to other apps that you use such as Pinterest, Spotify and many more. Clicking on your account settings into Connected Apps should allow you to add or remove accounts which are storing data from the likes of your Facebook account. It’s recommended that you disconnect all third-party apps, as hackers can use these to collect information about you too easily.
As simple as it may be, heed advice from your parents given to you when you were younger and never talk to strangers. Obviously, it’s 2019 and so strangers can come into your digital life as well as physically, via scams by friend requests, iMessage, WhatsApp…the list goes on. Scammers can also play even more cruel tricks – if you receive an odd looking message from an account that you know, such as one begging for money immediately, assume it’s a hacker and don’t reply. Norton Security have tons of useful advice about how to avoid getting hacked via mobile.
We’ve all seen them, you’ll get a Facebook message from a friend saying something like: “OMG can’t believe there’s a video of you on YouTube doing THAT! Click this link NOW”. No doubt that your mate has clicked the link and had their account hacked, sending out malicious data from hackers in the process. Another example are messages encouraging you to enter a lottery draw that no one’s heard of. Mark any of these senders as Spam.
Too often, bank details have been stored on websites and collected by scammers who are able to navigate their way into your accounts sneakily. By saving your data, it’s waiting to be collected for someone to tamper with. Better to delete the information as soon as you’ve made a payment and retype it every time than keep it safe for a hacker.
Most social media accounts should ask you for two-factor authentication, such as typing in your mobile number, email or other information which will be a second-step before accessing your account. Whilst there’s no guarantee that using it will stop scammers, it will be an added suit of armour in the event of a cyber hack. Guidance on how to have two-factor authentication on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other accounts is listed here.
To join the global movement to fight scammers, #ForTheWeb, visit https://fortheweb.webfoundation.org/.