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How to (Do Your Best to) Stay Cyber-Secure Using Social Media

I generally try to do some “house keeping” at the beginning of each year but, of course, it pays to implement the tips below whenever you get to it.

Cyber security, or rather the lack thereof, is one of the main threats of our time.

Here two simple tips that could make the difference:

Photo by flickr user rpongsaj used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by flickr user rpongsaj used under a Creative Commons license.

1. Have Excellent Passwords (Take no Short Cuts)

Hate changing your passwords for your social media, online banking, and many more online accounts? So do I – but having someone invade your privacy, social channels, or even financials could be devastating and time-consuming.

The DO List:

A good solution to make changing passwords less of a pain is to sign up for a password storage tool. Personally, I use 1Password which carries a yearly fee. I’ve also heard good things about a free tool called LastPass.

  • All you need to do, once you have such a tool, is to create one really hard password and remember it. Then you can let the tool auto-generate all your other really hard passwords, which you won’t need to remember.
  • You can have 1Password installed on your Mac/ PC, iPhone, and iPad (as long as you are not using iPad 1, as the OS does not support it).
  • You can “feed” 1Password every time you go to a site that requires you to create or use an existing login and it will store the details directly through the 1Password browser extension. Say you are going right now to change your Facebook password, when you are done doing that, 1Password can automatically record and encrypt the details for you.

The DON’T List:

If you are not ready to use a password tool, take these tips to heart:

  • Don’t use the same password or similar password that you slightly modify for each account. Make each password unique, with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters – at least 6 characters, ideally 9.
  • Change your password occasionally (at least once a year). While having a really difficult password is the number one best way to protect your accounts, changing your password cannot hurt.
  • Don’t use any real words, your pet’s name or anything people could Google about you.
  • Personally, I discourage publishing your birthday on LinkedIn or Facebook as the birth date is a crucial detail to cracking an online identity.

2. Check and update your social channel settings Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media channels periodically (or in Facebook’s case: all the time) change their privacy options or add options without making users explicitly aware of it.

For a safe 2014, visit at least your key channels – in my case Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – and check your privacy and notification settings.

  • Update where needed. Also, disconnect access for apps you no longer use.
  • While you are there, it might make sense to tweak your profile information, in case you can add a new accomplishment, job, or had other changes happen.

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      Author's profile photo Fred Verheul
      Fred Verheul

      Hi Natascha,

      Some great tips, even when most of them are not new. For some reason I still have to follow up on these points, slacker that I am.

      I'm going to try a password tool right now! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing and alerting, Fred

      Author's profile photo Michael Mankowski
      Michael Mankowski

      Hello Natascha - this was my call to action to use one of these tools.  As my passwords proliferate, I continue to forget them.


      Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas
      Tammy Powlas

      Natascha - very good suggestions - we just all need to remember to follow them.  I am still catching up from your other blogs - still thinking about the Linked In vanity URL, but this blog is way more important.

      Thank you for sharing with SCN

      Author's profile photo Martin English
      Martin English

      The key thing to these password tools is the ease of use, including the ability to access and update passwords from any device.

      I use a combination of a portable password tool (Keepass Portable) and Dropbox. I have Dropbox on my personal laptop, the family desktop and my phone, and I can download any of my Dropbox files to any device. I have my KeePass database stored within my Dropbox folders. This means I have access to my passwords (and the ability to update them) on all my devices,

      AND they are securely backed up, which means (as happened recently to me) you can have your phone and laptop stolen, but still have access to vital tools like SDN 🙂


      Author's profile photo Michael Shea
      Michael Shea

      SAP NetWeaver Single Sign-On offers a subcomponent Password Manager that lets you store your passwords, too. See Password Manager Implementation Guide