Cyber-stalking has never been so widespread: it’s increasingly easy for stalkers to watch, analyse and even physically follow their victims, says Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET South Africa.
If you have watched “You” on Netflix, then you may have had a jaw-dropping awakening to the worrying state of how stalkers target and groom their unfortunate victims in this digital age. Unfortunately, the internet can offer up a plethora of means that make up a stalker’s toolkit to collect and store a damaging amount of information. The trick is knowing how to protect yourself from possible tracking and online stalking.
To think that someone can notice you somewhere and all it takes is to geotag yourself and anyone can potentially contact you. It just goes to show that we need to keep our accounts private if we are going to “check in” in real time.
Stalking in 2019 has become far too easy. The profile data they can ascertain after crawling the web is huge, but some may say it doesn’t pose any risk. However, all it takes is one creepy person to become infatuated with someone and they can potentially work their way into their life.
Many people happily share passwords and even fingerprints to gain access to their spouse’s phones and other accounts without thinking twice, but what if this access doesn’t get revoked and they go one step further and read messages or check tracking information post-relationship?
As we move further into an era of smarter devices and security being everyone’s responsibility, we need to realise the potential of leaking data ourselves and tighten up where we can. Making our accounts private is a must and it is worth regularly reviewing your contacts and removing those with whom you no longer want to interact.
Follow these simple tips to ensure that your social media profiles are secured:
- Login credentials
Different social media sites have a wide variety of options available for preserving the security of your login credentials. Most social media sites offer some sort of two-factor authentication. They may also provide a list of devices already logged into your account so you can check for suspicious entries, and you can enable notifications for new logins.
Check the list of apps approved to access your account and remove those you no longer use.
- Viewing content and posts
Another important item to check is who has permission to view your posts. There are certain aspects of your profile that cannot be made private – usually at least whatever is used as your avatar or profile picture and some basic information such as a username – so choose these items with this in mind.
- Contact info and location
Social media offers people all sorts of different ways to contact you. Aside from any direct messaging options they may require you to input your email or phone numbers and, in some cases, even your physical address and those items may be searchable. Even if they do not ask you to type in your address, they may automatically add in your GPS location unless you disable this functionality. You can usually limit the visibility of your contact methods or restrict who can look you up if they already have access to your name, email address or phone number.
- Sending messages or comments
Where there are pictures and videos on social sites you will inevitably find tagging. If you want to have the right to approve whether others can link your profile to photos, you will generally need to enable this option, as it is rarely (if ever) the default option.
Receiving notifications from social sites can be sort of a mixed bag: they can let you know when something unexpected and unwanted is happening, or they can be a flood of potentially private information sent through an unencrypted channel where they can potentially be hijacked for nefarious purposes.
Curating your list of preferred types and methods of notification you receive can tip the scales in your favour.
While the ever-changing functionality on social media sties can offer an exciting array of ways to connect with people, it can also be dizzying from a security perspective. By checking your settings with certain categories in mind, you can cut through the confusion and keep your account more secure.