Whether you are a cautious LinkedIn lurker, have been dragged by your kids into the dance routines of Tiktok, log all your fitness achievements on Strava, create décor inspiration boards on Pinterest, or enthusiastically embrace any other platforms that might be available, it’s safe to say that social media is going nowhere.

The genie is out of the bottle, and in many ways, we are playing privacy and security catch up. 

Why we should protect our online presence?

Every time we interact with a social media platform, we are giving away information about ourselves: these tools are all about engagement at all costs, and driving us to comment, like, share and interact with it. This in turn tells the platform about our preferences so it can more finely tune its algorithm and present us with more content that we are likely to engage with.

Did you know… According to this 2015 study, Facebook can predict your personality better than your parents or best friends?

As well as the data you are giving to the social media platform, you may also be giving away information about yourself to criminals who could use it to create cyber-attacks like ‘phishing’ – where the criminal tricks you into giving away personal or financial information by pretending to be from a company you might be receptive to – possibly leaving you open to scams and fraud.

So, what can we do? 

Quilter Threat Intelligence analyst, Anthony Gilbert advises the following:

“When on social media, treat the “about me” fields as optional – these are not mandatory and may be a wealth of valuable information to an attacker.

Become a master of privacy settings by spending some time going through any platforms you are a member of and familiarise yourself with your privacy settings – the National Cyber Security Centre has more advice and links to popular privacy settings here.

It’s important to know the people you ‘friend’ or connect with. Take some time to ‘prune’ your connections list on occasion, and be cautious with any messages from people you don’t know – especially if they are asking for personal or company information, or asking you to click a link.

Finally, create strong passwords – access to your account is extremely valuable and can do real harm in the wrong hands.”