Help or hindrance? The truth about social media
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Whilst the concept of social media or social networking has been around for some time, the rise in popularity of these online platforms has been most marked in recent years. Nowadays, sites such as Facebook attract a large number of regular users with many people choosing to update their account on a daily basis.
Earlier this year it was confirmed that Facebook has over 900 million users. Unfortunately, with social media sites growing in popularity so too have the threats to online security. Approximately 45,000,000 of these user accounts are thought to be fake or fraudulent.
The risk of social media
Alongside the fake accounts, which have infiltrated their way into the social media system, fake applications and poor user practices have been highlighted as potential security threats. Recent reports detail how Facebook has begun to recognise flaws in their site, and are now publishing security advice at the top of users' homepages in an attempt to reduce online threats.
This guidance was issued following reports that other social media sites, including LinkedIn, had suffered data breaches. This action has also prompted Facebook to engage in a programme aimed at eliminating malware on the site by suggesting users download a free antivirus trial.
Such precautions directly address safety concerns inherent within social media, offering users a safer way in which to enjoy one of the internet's latest success stories. Fake accounts and scams are thought to be one of the prime causes of disruption to these services but with many users listing personal details on their profiles there are plenty of other risks posed by social media.
Protecting yourself online
For those who use these sites it is therefore vital to take adequate steps to protect yourself. Adopting safe practices when surfing the net is paramount. Giving personal details is never advised, and those using sites such as Facebook should ensure all of their details are hidden from public view.
It is always recommended to change security settings to ensure that only authorised individuals are able to access your profile and Facebook users are advised not to open any links or view content which they are suspicious of.
To protect your information and to safeguard your online activity, invest in an internet security system which offers comprehensive scanning of online content. These programmes are designed to identify and isolate potential threats by scanning all attachments and links which the user receives - even if sent from apparently legitimate sources.
It is also important that users ensure they have adequate protection installed on all the devices they use to connect to the Internet or access sites such as Facebook. Due to the rising dominance of smartphones in the global phone market, finding a free antivirus download for these systems is now highly recommended.
Devices such as smartphones and tablets are often connected to the internet for large proportions of the day, exposing users to an increased risk of online threats. Without adequate protection in place, your smartphone could fall victim to the same viruses, phishing scams and spyware that affect your PCs and laptops. By purchasing security software for each of your devices you'll have the freedom and confidence to browse the internet wherever you are.
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