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

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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.
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