We all love how Facebook connects us with friends, entertains us, and tries to keep us away from the bad guys with very useful, but often ignored, security advice. But the bad guys are out there lurking in the shadows, wearing leather jackets, swaggering about, and chewing gum (not like The Fonz) to steal money and identities from the vulnerable amongst you.
Whether they succeed or fail is all up to you. Before we tell you how to fend them off, let’s start with unbelievably stupid things that you could do on Facebook if you want to assist these online crooks in stealing from you:
- Another friend request? I don’t know who that person is…but sod it. They look fit and I’ll have a bigger friends list.
- I just use password1 as my password – as I always forget long ones. Remembering password1 is easy and I’ll never forget that password! No-one will be able to guess it.
- OMG one of my Facebook friends is stuck in Nigeria and needs a plane ticket home! I’ll better splash out on the $500 so he/she can get back home. Foreign office? Don’t be silly. I can pay the money and my friend will give me the money back (and a bit more) when he/she returns.
- That “I just got the Dislike button, so now I can dislike all of your dumb posts lol!!” status update looks very fantastic. I’ll click on the link (that my friend has posted) to get it. Strange that it doesn’t look like something he/she would write, though.
- WTF, an email from Facebook about a reset password? I’ll better click the link and sort that out quckly!
However, if you’d prefer to be a wise and savvy Internet security expert, sneering at the daft mistakes of others, then follow these five useful tips:
- Only accept friend requests from people that you know personally and accept their request directly within Facebook rather than clicking links within an email.
- Strong passwords can be gained by using unique characters like # and making them about 12 or 13 characters long. Code breaking software can hack simple passwords in minutes.
- Be wary of scams. Never purchase from unknown sources online, nor send money to those you’re not familiar with.
- Avoid clicking or opening suspicireupdated with the latest news on viruses.
- Check the Facebook security page regularly for the latest updates on malware, viruses and spam.
Following these five tips will keep you in the bright Facebook sunshine, rather than being robbed by some online rapscallions in the shadows of social media. And if you spot any troublemakers, report them to Facebook and warn your friends.
Andrew Parker is a social media expert at Dreamscape Design.