What could be nicer than a place where you have hundreds of friends, even if you don’t know half of them? A place where people like things you say or pictures you show them of the new shoes you bought online. Or how about someplace where people follow you, even if you yourself don’t know where you’re going? 

That’s a lot of personal validation, even if it’s from people you’ve never met and for things as simple as what you had for lunch. Who’d want to give that up?

Well, no one is saying you should go cold turkey on your social media activities, but they’re really worth reconsidering in light of the fact that everything you post gives the legions of trolling cybercriminals the personal information they crave in order to hijack your passwords, gain access to your accounts, and create havoc in your files.

Antivirus security software for all of your electronic devices is a must, of course, but there are other precautions you and your family members should be taking to protect yourselves from the cyber threats out there. Everyone needs to know the rules to follow as one uses any electronics that are connected to the Internet. 

These rules are so simple that people tend to get lazy about them. But now, when we’re spending more time at home and on our devices, they’re more important than ever.

Use Tough Passwords

It’s been estimated that around two out of three people create their passwords using easy to find personal information like a family member or pet’s name, a birth date, or an address. Making it even more of a cinch for hackers, more people than you’d imagine using the passwords like  “123456”, “qwerty” or any other easy password. Using such passwords is just like handing your debit card details to a stranger you see. In addition to all this, here is the list of worst 100 passwords, but only if you promise not to use them.

A password should be a complex combination of lower and upper case letters, special symbols, numbers. Moreover, you should avoid using easy words. Security experts recommend that you try any phrase that you can remember easily, and then randomly add numbers and symbols within it. It is also advised that you change your passwords periodically and use different passwords for different accounts. 

Protect Your Personal Information

The information you share on social media, games, and other networking sites is all also accessible to people who not only want clues to your passwords but for other nefarious purposes as well. It doesn’t take much effort for criminals to find out your personal and social details from what you post as they also end up looking for your information online. 

Don’t publicize the dates about your kids’ school and activities schedules or when you’ll be out of town. No one has to be a genius to put the pieces together and know when you are going away from your home. If you’re going to give out all that information, you may as well be leaving the front door unlocked. 

This caution goes for social media quizzes and surveys, too, some of which, by the way, are just marketing ploys to build advertisers’ contact lists. You might be asked the make and model of your first car, the name of your favorite band or all-time favorite movie or TV show, where you went to grade school, or any of a number of other questions that, coincidentally or not, are the same questions that you might have answered to serve as security checks on your Internet accounts. Using that information, someone who has hacked into your email account only has to say that he doesn’t remember the password and then use your quiz answers to re-set it.

Don’t stop using social media, but a reasonable amount of precautions will keep you and your family safe from online in the virtual world.