The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook: #3

3. Secure your account.
Facebook connects 700,000,000 people around the globe.  Some say it’s a tool to spread democracy in a viral way. Other people just see it as a way to tell strangers that you are “playing hooky”.

Our Facebook accounts have become, in many ways, our online selves. Our digital identities mirror our real identities in that there is some information we don’t want to share with everyone.  Even if you have your Facebook privacy settings literally set to “everyone”, you still may have private messages that you do not want public. Our challenge to share the right things with the right people. And to do that, you need to keep control over your account.

There are endless ways to hack unsecured accounts . While account cracking is a tough thing for a stranger to pull off, sloppy Facebooking can make it easy for your friends to take control of your account.

You’ve already secured your browsing. Now there are a few things you can do now to protect your Facebook.  They’re listed in order of importance.

Use a strong password NO ONE can guess and don’t let your browser remember it
Creating and remembering strong passwords isn’t easy. That’s why we recommend this simple system. And don’t let Firefox, or any browser you use, remember your passwords. To clear your passwords in Firefox, go to “Tools” then “Clear Private Data” the close and reopen Firefox.)

Use unique passwords for all of your important accounts (and update them every few months)
For any account that really matters—your email, your bank and credit card accounts, Facebook—you need to use a unique, strong password that you do not use for any other account. You should update the passwords of your most important accounts every few months, at least. If you recognize any suspicious account activity in your account, change your password immediately.

Make sure your system software and Internet security are updated
Updated system and Internet Security can’t stop you from making security mistakes or being the victim of social engineering. But it can prevent most of the common attacks out there. Our free Health Check will tell you if your PC is protected. Once you are updated, be sure to update your most important software including your OS, browser, media players and PDF reader on a regular basis either through our Health Check or the software developers’ sites.

Watch where you click and watch where you land
Always check the URL in your browser to make sure you’re on Facebook when you enter your private information. And if you ever have any doubt about something that has been posted in your newsfeed, follow the Golden Rule of Social Media Security and don’t click. More on the art of clicking in #6 of this guide.

Always log out
You’re not keeping hackers out by staying logged in. They still can get in and you’re leaving your account open for a snarky co-worker or invasive family member to pry. And once someone is inside your account, they can change your password to keep you out.

If you use Facebook’s mobile app, always lock your smartphone
Your phone can give an intruder access to your and your friends’ private information. An intruder could also post status updates and photos as you. This could simply embarrass your or cause actual harm to your career or private life. I also recommend using a remote lock software like our Free Anti-Theft for Mobile on your smartphone if you lose it.

How To Make Sure You Can Get Your Account Back If It Is Hacked

If you start using a new email account, update Facebook settings
If your account is hacked, you need access to the email account you have in your settings. If you can’t get into that email because it’s closed, you’ve just greatly limited your chance of recovering your account.

Consider doing what Facebook recommends

Facebook now rates how secure your account is. It’s a powerful feature, as long as you take it seriously. If your account “Overall Protection” is rated “low”, Facebook will prompt you to add some information. I suggest you do this though it will require adjusting your notifications so you won’t get messages from Facebook that you do not want to see.

Add a secondary email
Facebook asks for a secondary email. This helps Facebook because now it will be able to connect you with more friends. And it helps you if you ever lose access to your primary email, or if your primary email gets hacked. So only add  a secure email account with a unique password.

You can add your secondary email by going to “Account” > “Account Settings”> Find “Email” and click on “change”.

Add your mobile number
Adding your cell phone number gives you a secondary way to claim your hacked account. It also gives you the ability to get one-time passwords, which I’ll explain later. To change or add your mobile number, go here. On that same page, be sure to edit your notifications or Facebook will be texting you nonstop. Only activate your phone for this purpose if you keep it locked when it is not in use.

Add a strong security question
Make sure you choose a question that only you can answer. The last five digits of your driver’s license are probably better answer than the name of your first pet—since your friends and family may know that. The worst answer, of course, would be one that a stranger could figure out by looking at your profile.

For Extra Protection

Activate Account Protection
Want to be notified when a new computer logs into your account? Activate Account Protection. If someone gets into your account on a device you don’t recognize, you can login to Facebook and “end activity” on that login. Then you can, hopefully, change your password before the intruder does. Once you activate this feature, you’ll have to name every device you login from. It’s slightly annoying, but it gives you the kind of control of your account that will keep your account safe.

To activate Account Protection and “end activity” on any Facebook sessions you didn’t initiate, go to “Account” > “Account Settings”> Find “Account Protection” and click on “Save”.

Use Login Approval
You can prevent someone from logging into your account with Facebook’s new Login Approvals, as long as the attempted hacker doesn’t have access access to the mobile you have connected to your Facebook account. Login approval requires a new security code sent via SMS when you attempt to use your Facebook account from a new device. This requires a one-to-two minute setup on each device you use.

To activate Login Approvals, go to “Account” > “Account Settings”> Under “Login Approvals”, click the box for “Require me to enter a security code sent to my phone” then click  “Save”.

Use One-Time Passwords on public computers
If you use Facebook on public computers, such as at school or the library, you should use Facebook’s One-Time password feature. On a public computer, you have no idea what kinds of programs are running that could be used to log your account information. By using a unique password each time, you remove the risk that your credentials will be stolen.

To do this you need to set up and verify your SMS number. Go here and add in your mobile number. You’ll then need to verify the number by entering a code that will be sent to you. Once this is done, you can send a text message to 32665 with the message “otp” when you’re about to login on a public computer. Your One-Time Password will work for 20 minutes after you receive it.

Follow us on Facebook for ongoing tips on securing your account.

The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook

  1. Unless you have a good reason not to, use the “Friends Only” privacy setting.
  2. Turn on Secure Browsing.
  3. Secure your account.
  4. Take a look at what others see when they see you and decide if you want search engines to find your profile.
  5. Turn off Instant Personalization and audit your apps.
  6. Watch where you click.
  7. Decide if you want your name and image to appear in Facebook ads.
  8. Start using Facebook lists.

More posts from this topic

FB archive

Your digital memories – will they vanish or persist?

If you like sailing and tall ships, I can recommend this podcast about Pam Bitterman’s book Sailing to the far horizon. It’s a great story about the last years of the community-operated ship Sofia, covering both a lot of happy sailing and the ship’s sad end in the early eighties. But this is not about hippies on a ship, it’s about how we record and remember our lives. In the podcast Pam tells us how the book was made possible by her parents saving her letters home. Perhaps they had a hunch that this story will be written down one day. Going on to state that e-mails and phone calls wouldn’t have been saved that way. That’s a very interesting point that should make us think. At least it made me think about what we will remember about our lives in, say, twenty years? We collect more info about what we are doing than ever before. We shoot digital pictures all the time and post status updates on Facebook. We are telling the world where we are, what we are doing and what we feel. Maybe in a way that is shallower than letters home, but we sample our lives at a very granular rate. The real question is however how persistent this data is? If we later realize we have experienced something unique enough to write a book about, have our digital life left enough traces to support us? Pam wrote the book about Sofia some twenty years later. A twenty year old paper is still young, but that’s an eternity in the digital world. Will you still be on the same social media service? Do you still have the same account or have you lost it. Does the service even exist? And what about your e-mails, have you saved them? How are your digital photos archived? You may even have cleaned up yourself to fit everything into a cheaper cloud account. Here’s something to keep in mind about retaining your digital life. Realize the value of your personal records. You may fail to see the value in single Facebook posts, but they may still form a valuable wholeness. If you save it you can choose to use it or not in the future. If you lose it you have no choice. Make sure you don’t lose access to your mail, social media and cloud storage accounts. That would force you to start fresh, which usually means data loss. Always register a secondary mail address in the services. That will help you recover if you forget the password. Use a password manager to avoid losing the password in the first place. Redundancy is your friend. Do not store important data in a single location. The ideal strategy is to store your files both on a local computer and in a cloud account. It provides redundancy and also stores data in several geographically separated locations. This is easy with younited because you can set it to automatically back up selected folders. Mail accounts have limited capacity and you can’t keep stuff forever. Don’t delete your correspondence. Check your mail client instead for a function that archives your mail to local storage. Check your social media service for a way to download a copy of your stuff. In Facebook you can currently find this function under Settings / General. It’s good to do this regularly, and you should at least do it if you plan to close your account and go elsewhere. Migrate your data when switching to a new computer or another cloud service. It might be tricky and take some time, but it is worth it. Do not see it as a great opportunity to start fresh and get rid of "old junk". If you are somewhat serious about digital photography, you should get familiar with DAM. That means Digital Asset Management. This book is a good start. Pam did not have a book in mind when she crossed the Pacific. But she was lucky and her parents helped her retain the memories. You will not be that lucky. Don’t expect your friends on Facebook to archive posts for you, you have to do it yourself. You may not think you’ll ever need the stuff, just like Pam couldn’t see the book coming when onboard Sofia. But you never know what plans the future has for you. When you least expect it, you might find yourself in a developing adventure. Make yourself a favor and don’t lose any digital memories. Safe surfing, Micke  

Oct 13, 2014
BY Micke
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On Ello you’re not a product, you’re a feature.

Most of us have some kind of relationship with Facebook. We either love it, hate it or ignore it. Some of us are hooked. Some have found new opportunities, and many have got themselves into a mess on Facebook. Some are worry-free and totally open while others are deeply concerned about privacy. But we probably all agree that Facebook has changed our lives or at least impacted our ways to communicate. Facebook has showed that social media is an important tool for both business and private affairs. Facebook was in the right place at the right time to become the de-facto standard for social media. But the success of Facebook is also what makes it scary. Imagine the power you have if you know everything about everyone in the civilized world. And on top of that with quite loose legislation about what you can do with that data. Ok, everything and everyone are exaggerations, but not too far from the truth. Others have tried to challenge Facebook, but no one has succeeded so far. One reason is that social media automatically is monopolizing. The most important selection criteria is where your friends are, and that drives everyone into one common service. The fact that even Google failed with Google+, despite their huge resources and a ready user base from services like Gmail, just underlines how solid Facebook’s position is. Ello is the latest challenger and they certainly have an interesting approach. Ello tries to hit Facebook straight in its weakest point and provide a service that respect user integrity. They may lack the resources of Google, but they can be credible in this area. The choice between Facebook and Google is like a rock and a hard place for the privacy minded, but Ello is different. Their manifesto says it all. Will Ello survive and will they be the David that finally defeats Goliath? Ello is in a very early phase and they certainly have a very long way to go. But remember that their success depends on you too. You may not be a product on Ello, but you are certainly a feature. The main feature, actually. The team can only provide a framework for our social interactions. But people to be social with is absolutely crucial for any social network. So Ello’s raise or fall is mostly in our hands now. They need enough pioneers to make it a vibrant society. The development team can make the service fail, but they can only create potential for success. Ello needs you to materialize that potential. So what’s my honest opinion about Ello? The fact that the service is based on privacy and integrity is good. We need a social media service like this. But there are also many open questions and dark clouds on Ello’s sky. People have complained about its usability. And yes, usability is quite weird in many ways. It’s also very obvious that Ello is too premature to be a tool for non-technical users. Now in October 2014, I would personally only invite people who are used to beta software. But both usability and the technical quality can be fixed, it just takes more work from the team. A bigger question mark is however the future business model of Ello. On Facebook you’re a product and that’s what pays for the “free” service. But how is Ello going to strike a balance between privacy and funding the operation? This is one of the big challenges. Another is if the privacy-promise really is enough? Many of us are already privacy-aware, but the vast majority is still quite clueless. What Ello needs is either a big increase in privacy awareness or something clever that Facebook doesn’t provide and can’t copy quickly. It may seem futile for a small startup to challenge Facebook. But keep in mind that Facebook was small too once in the beginning. Facebook showed us that we need social media. Perhaps Ello can show us that we need social media with integrity. But anyway, you are among those who decide Ello’s future by either signing up or ignoring it.   Safe surfing, @Micke-fi on Ello   Picture: ello.co screen capture

Oct 3, 2014
BY Micke
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How should we deal with defamation and hate speech on the net? – Poll

Everybody probably agree that the net has developed a discussion culture very different from what we are used to in real life. The used adjectives vary form inspiring, free and unrestricted to crazy, sick and shocking. The (apparent) anonymity when discussing on-line leads to more open and frank opinions, which is both good and bad. It becomes especially bad when it turns into libel and hate speech. What do you think about this? Read on and let us know in the poll below. We do have laws to protect us against defamation. But the police still has a very varying ability to deal with crimes on the net. And the global nature of Internet makes investigations harder. Most cases are international, at least here in Europe where we to a large extent rely on US-based services. This is in the headlines right now here in Finland because of a recent case. The original coverage is in Finnish so I will give you a short summary in English. A journalist named Sari Helin blogged about equal rights for sexual minorities, and how children are very natural and doesn’t react anyway if a friend has two mothers, for example. This is a sensitive topic and, hardly surprising, she got a lot of negative feedback. Part of the feedback was clear defamation. Calling her a whore, among other nasty things. She considered it for a while and finally decided to report the case to the police, mainly because of Facebook comments. This is where the really interesting part begins. Recently the prosecutor released the decision about the case. They simply decided to drop it and not even try to investigate. The reason? Facebook is in US and it would be too much work contacting the authorities over there for this rather small crime. A separately interviewed police officer also stated that many of the requests that are sent abroad remain unanswered, probably for the same reason. This reflects the situation in Finland, but I guess there are a lot of other countries where the same could have happened. Is this OK? The resourcing argument is understandable. The authorities have plenty of more severe crimes to deal with. But accepting this means that law and reality drift even further apart. Something is illegal but everybody knows you will get away with the crime. That’s not good. Should we increase resourcing and work hard to make international investigations smoother? That’s really the only way to make the current laws enforceable. The other possible path is to alter our mindset about Internet discussions. If I write something pro-gay on the net, I know there’s a lot of people who dislike it and think bad things about me. Does it really change anything if some of these people write down their thoughts and comment on my writings? No, not really. But most people still feel insulted in cases like this. I think we slowly are getting used to the different discussion climate on the net. We realize that some kinds of writing will get negative feedback. We are prepared for that and can ignore libel without factual content. We value feedback from reputable persons, and anonymous submissions naturally have less significance. Pure emotional venting without factual content can just be ignored and is more shameful for the writer than for the object. Well, we are still far from that mindset, even if we are moving towards it. But which way should we go? Should we work hard to enforce the current law and prosecute anonymous defamers? Or should we adopt our mindset to the new discussion culture? The world is never black & white and there will naturally be development on both these fronts. But in which direction would you steer the development if you could decide? Now you have to pick the one you think is more important.   [polldaddy poll=8293148]   Looking forward to see what you think. The poll will be open for a while and is closed when we have enough data.   Safe surfing, Micke  

Sep 8, 2014
BY Micke