You should share your identity online

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You can use social networks to communicate with family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, share your photos and videos and much more. However, you should not underestimate the dangers of social networks - for example identity theft or spying on private information. We have easy-to-implement tips for you with which you can easily stop social life on the Internet.

The top 3 basic tips: Simply secure social media

1. First things first: secure passwords!

Use different and complex passwords for logging into social networks. The following applies to a secure password:
You have to be able to remember a password well.

  • The longer the password, the better. The password should be at least eight characters long.
  • As a rule, all available characters can be used for a password, i.e. upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
  • The full password should not appear in the dictionary. Common sequences of numbers or keyboard patterns are also out of the question as a secure password.
  • Adding simple digits or special characters before or after a normal word is not recommended.
  • A password manager can facilitate the handling of different passwords. This is an application that manages secure passwords for your online and user accounts and can also generate them. You need a so-called master password to use it. This allows you to access the password manager. It should therefore be a strong password that you can remember. Under no circumstances should you give your password to third parties.

2. Double bottom: two-factor authentication

Use two-factor authentication to access your user accounts on social networks. This means: The first factor used is a secure password, for example. The second factor for additional authentication can be, for example, a hardware component that acts as a key. This can be a smartphone, a chip card or a special USB stick. A one-time code sent by the provider is also often used. This provides much better protection for your user account, because criminals who have stolen your password cannot log into your account without the second factor.

3. Keep your eyes open: Don't click links or buttons without thinking!

Online criminals use social networks to lure users with posts or links in chats to prepared websites, via which they can access access data or infect devices with malware. A careless click can cause malware to be installed on your device. Therefore, be especially suspicious of messages from strangers and do not click any links. The profiles of known contacts can also be misused if third parties have gained access to them, for example through identity theft.

Other important tips, including on device protection and privacy

Be careful when installing apps, add-ons, or plug-ins

Many social networks allow third-party applications, such as games, to be installed. Depending on the network, we are talking about apps, add-ons or plug-ins. They all have in common that you can expand your profile with additional functions or adapt it to your personal needs. But online criminals also create or hijack such applications and use them to gain access to your profile. Therefore, check providers and sources for their trustworthiness.

Protect your mobile device

Social networks are often used via mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. You should therefore ensure that your software and hardware have good basic protection. The operators or third-party providers provide apps for access. These often access sensitive data that is available on the mobile device. This includes the address book, photos, videos or location information. In addition, you are usually automatically logged into the social network afterwards through apps. If your device is lost, this can be exploited by having the finder or thief pretend to be you. Protect access to your mobile device with a lock code, PIN or password entry, fingerprint or face recognition.

More information on basic protection for mobile devices.

Be selective about contact requests

Identity theft is one of the risks of the digital age. Criminals impersonate another person in order to impersonate them, communicate on their behalf, or possibly misuse them for crime or illegal online business. For this it is often enough to copy the profile picture and the name of a person and create a new user account. The perpetrators can therefore also be people you know. If you receive dubious contact requests from acquaintances, inquire about the authenticity of these messages outside of social networks.

Only add people to your friends or contacts list who you are sure that they are authentic user profiles. The age of a profile and previous publications can be an indication of this.

Protect your privacy and do not reveal too much about yourself

Every social network offers numerous settings to protect your privacy. Use this especially if you only want your friends to see your profile and your posts. There you can also set that search engines ignore your profile. The less personal data you have published, the less attack surface you offer for criminals who want to take over their digital identity, for example.

Delete your account if you no longer need it

If you want to shut down an account, back up your data outside of the network if necessary and then delete it in the account. In the following, carefully follow the provider's procedure for deleting the user account. In some cases, this also includes not logging in again within a certain period of time.

Data protection and general terms and conditions (GTC)

Social networks are operated by for-profit companies that are mostly financed through advertising. The terms and conditions provide information on how the provider handles your personal data and how this is passed on to the advertising industry. Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the terms and conditions and the data protection regulations - before you set up a profile.

Some social networks grant usage rights to their publications. In this way, for example, you transfer the usage rights to your photos and videos to the operator of the social network. In addition, it is quite common for granted usage rights to remain in effect even if you leave the network and delete your profile. Before publishing, consider whether you want to share the rights to your images and texts. Also make sure that you do not violate the rights of third parties by posting pictures, texts or videos.

The BSI has created an overview with information about technical settings for the most popular platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter. In addition, our first aid measures show what you can do if you suspect that someone has gained unauthorized access to your social media account.