Best ways to keep your social media and email accounts safe

Social media is all about networking and communicating, both personally and professionally. The following tips to social media security are essential to ensuring protection of your virtual personal space and avoid being scammed or spammed.
The UAE has a comprehensive set of laws and guidelines pertaining to social media use in the country.
1. Passwords and privacy settings
Choose a strong alphanumeric password which ideally is not anything the web already knows. Ensure that it is more than eight characters and also include special characters. Remember to have different passwords for your accounts; at least keeping different passwords for social media accounts to personal bank accounts, shopping accounts etc.
Any information posted online stays online, so be sure to adjust your privacy settings so that only people you know are able to see any of your information.
2. TMI – Too Much Information
People have different ideas about how much is too much, but TMI on social media can be plain old embarrassing, or even a prelude to cyber-crime. The information available online about you is usually more than sufficient to prepare an authentic application for credit products and services which never comes to light until too late.
You should not give out your address on social media, nor say that no one will be at home that weekend. In the USA, around 78 per cent of thieves in custody admitted that they used social media to target and plan their operation.
3. Accept “friend requests” from friends only
Social media sites are great for networking and meeting new people but knowing exactly what lies behind a profile picture is close to impossible. Networking is great, but you need to draw the line with regards to your privacy.
Don’t accept unknown “friend requests”. You never know what their true intentions may be.
4. Mentor your children
Although technically children under the age of 14 aren’t allowed to use a number of social media sites or email providers, that doesn’t stop a number of them lying about their age to get online. They are susceptible to identity theft and psychological problems like anxiety, depression, and anti-social behavior. Parents shouldn’t be afraid to discuss online habits with children.
Mentoring vs. monitoring is the key for tech-savvy children today.
5. Always sign out of accounts
Remembering to sign out of your email and social media accounts, especially at work, public cafés, and other areas where your information is at risk, is very important. Remember to do the same at home if you do not want your kids using your credentials to go online. Having an on-screen password is a basic security measure that is easy to set up.
6. Keep your personal and business social media separate
While this may not be possible for everyone, you should ensure that your work email accounts are used for only professional purposes. The recent Ashley Madison case is the perfect example of how bad things could go at a personal and organisational level through misuse of work email accounts. Nothing is completely secure on the internet and a little caution can go a long way.
7. Do not download!
Most scams begin with an email that may at first look authentic with an innocent attachment or shortened link. When you click download, you may be inadvertently downloading a password and data stealing software or giving someone complete remote control over your device. Not to mention the risk of viruses.
In the office, never download any attachment unless you verify the sender through phone. You may get password change links or verification links through email. In such cases, go directly to the concerned website and check it out rather than clicking on the link.
If in doubt, consult your office IT manager.