Cyber Security Today – How to be safe using social media

How to be safe using social media

Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Friday August 30th. I’m Howard Solomon, contributing reporter on cyber security for

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Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the rest are fun ways to keep in touch with friends and family. But if you aren’t careful with privacy settings they could also be full of personal information hackers can use.

For example, a Texas company lost $1 million when an assistant to the CEO thought she was following her boss’s emailed orders to send money to a company. Instead the money went to a crook How? The attacker read the executive’s Facebook page. One of things he wrote about was coaching his daughter’s softball team. Knowing that, the criminal hacked the executive’s email and sent a message to the assistant on a Friday asking her to look after transferring money to a firm because he was away at his daughter’s tournament. The message told the assistant not to bother confirming with the CEO because he was at the tournament.

Criminals will scour social media to learn as much about their victims as possible. So this month the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada issued tips to help you stay safe.

First, read the privacy policies of the social media platform you want to join. That will allow you to make an informed decision on whether you want to sign up. Learn what information about subscribers the organization collects — what you share, posts you like and dislike, ads you click on and such — how that data will be used and if is shared with other sites or advertisers.

Chose a strong password that won’t be easy to guess or find out from your postings — that means don’t use your mother’s maiden name, your children’s’ names, the names of pets, or the name of your boat. If it’s offered, add two-factor authentication as an extra login protection. Can’t remember all your passwords? Use a password manager.

Most importantly, customize your privacy settings so the information you want to share can only be seen by who you want.

Don’t post things you don’t want everyone to see — such as intimate photos, videos or passwords. If your social media page is open think about whether you need to post vacation photos that tell the world you’re not home. Be careful when posting photos of pets with collars or tags that show your name, address and phone number. And think carefully about what you say in your posts about other people.

Finally, be on the lookout for scams. Fraudsters will create fake accounts of friends, relatives or someone who pretends to have the same interests as you.

There’s more information on the privacy commissioner’s web site.

That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Links to details about these stories can be found in the text version of each podcast at That’s where you’ll also find my news stories aimed at businesses and cyber security professionals. Cyber Security Today can be heard on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or add us to your Flash Briefing on your smart speaker. Thanks for listening. I’m Howard Solomon

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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