Easy Ways to Stay Safe on Social Networks

Getcybersafe.gc.ca presents 'Easy Ways to Stay Safe on Social Networks'.

Social networks have taken the cyber world by storm. It seems like everyone belongs to at least one of these online communities. They make it easy and fun to instantly connect, share, and stay up to date on everything from world events to what your friends are up to.

But you aren't the only one to have discovered how amazing social networks are. So have cyber criminals. They like to "get social" too, but their definition of "getting social" is helping themselves to your personal information, among other things. Cyber criminals on social networks pretend to be people they aren't, so you'll add them to your friend list and give them access to your personal information, location and activities. Creepy, eh?

Cyber criminals also create fake apps and links designed to look like something you and your friends might be interested in, so you pass them along to each other. Clicking on the wrong link could help a cyber criminal steal your information, or infect your device with malware or a virus. But cyber criminals aren't the only danger you face on social networks. You can also do harm to yourself, by sharing embarrassing words or pictures that may come back to haunt you.

Social networking is extremely popular with young people, who may be less aware that it's very easy to lose everything while trying to be social. But don't worry, it's just as easy for you to protect yourself, simply by doing some easy things.

Easy thing number one. Never click on a link to go to a social networking site. Cyber criminals have set up fake sites with names close to the real ones to get your name and password, and do other assorted damage. Instead, type the address of your social network right into your browser, or bookmark it. That way, you'll always know it's the right one.

Easy thing number two. Never post words or pictures on social media that you wouldn't want a future employer or family member to see. Nothing on the Internet ever goes away, even after you think you've deleted it.

Easy thing number three. Privacy settings rock! They'll let you determine who can see what, and who can't. Also, never post your home address, telephone number or email as part of your profile.

Easy thing number four. Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know. People on social networks aren't always who they say they are. Sometimes they're only after information, not friendship.

Easy thing number five. Before downloading apps or clicking on links, stop and think carefully. Do you really want to share what the app is asking you to share? Can you trust the source of the link? The wrong link could connect you with malware, viruses, or other bad things.

And one last tip. Share this video with your friends, because the more people who see it, the safer we'll all be.

Cyber criminals have made social networking a potentially dangerous activity. But as long as you keep the easy tips we've shown you in mind, you can be social and safe at the same time.

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