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How Safe Is Your Online Data on Social Media?

Social media has positively impacted our lives in many ways. However, on the flipside, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep our online data safe when it comes to social media apps.

The need to protect sensitive information, such as credit card details, banking details, passwords, and other personal information from data breaches and cyber attacks should rank very high on our priority list.

However, this doesn’t seem to be the case, as most people display a very laid-back approach to securing their online data on social media platforms.

The Facebook Case

In 2017, Facebook made about $40 billion in revenue, 99% of which, came from advertisements. Facebook generates revenue mainly from targeted advertising and user data. By the third quarter of 2018, the social platform had more than 2.2 billion active monthly users and an average of 1.5 billion daily active users.

It’s no surprise then, that Facebook makes so much money from user data. In March of 2018, it was involved in a series of scandals arising from reports that Facebook allowed several multinational companies to access the personal information of its users, thus compromising its user’s data, privacy, and security.

Aside from Facebook, other social media giants like Instagram, Twitter, Google, and Pinterest have also been affected by data breaches leading to millions of accounts being exposed. Unfortunately, in most cases, it takes around 6 months for companies to detect a data breach.

Why Do Hackers Target Social Networks?

The growing trend of data breaches has raised privacy concerns among users and stakeholders regarding online data security, as well as the adverse effects of these sites having too much user information.

These social media platforms operate by collecting user’s personal data and posts, hardware and software information, payment and account details, and information from other networks.

Then they use this data to help marketers send specific ads to targeted customers and also use it for investigations and research within and outside their network.

In 2017, Facebook made about $40 billion in revenue, 99% of which, came from advertisements. Facebook generates revenue mainly from targeted advertising and user data.

The Biggest Data Breaches

31% of organisations have experienced cyber attacks and sometimes, it happens to some of the largest organisations out there. In 2016, about 32 million Twitter users had their passwords hacked and leaked. The following year, there was another breach where several high-profile Twitter accounts were compromised.

In 2013, Pinterest was affected by a breach when its customer service provider Zendesk was hacked. There were no reports of any passwords being compromised. However, thousands of user’s emails were obtained.

In 2014, more than five million Google passwords were uploaded to a Russian web forum. In 2015, a security flaw named “Freak Attack” left millions of Google users vulnerable to hackers.

Also, there was an accidental leak of WHOIS data in 2015 which affected about 280,000 users.

The popular professional networking site LinkedIn has also had its fair share of data breaches. In 2016, details of 117 million users were made available for purchase on the dark web.

In 2014, more than five million Google passwords were uploaded to a Russian web forum. In 2015, a security flaw named “Freak Attack” left millions of Google users vulnerable to hackers.

How To Protect Yourself

Securing your online data isn’t complicated. By adopting the following simple steps, you can prevent yourself from being vulnerable to hacks and data breaches.

  • Safeguard your passwords diligently. Never reveal them to anyone, and never write them down. They should be between 8-12 characters long, with a combination of upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols.

  • Use login verification and extra security features on your social media platforms.

  • Ensure that your email account(s) are secure.

  • Before downloading anything online, especially email attachments, make sure the files are safe.

  • Run anti-virus software on your devices.

  • Only sign in to websites using trusted devices, and ensure that you log out when you use a computer you share with other people.

  • Be wary of third-party apps and websites.

  • Finally, be careful about how much personal information you reveal on social media. Change your privacy settings to decide who gets to see your activity feed.

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