INCREASE YOUR FACEBOOK SECURITY
Ian Evenden details what settings to change to make your account safer.
Ian Evenden tells you how to keep your social life safe online.
There’s a lot of concern about online privacy nowadays, particularly on Facebook in the light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which personally identifiable data on over 87 million Facebook users was collected without their consent — if it’s not your friends guessing your password and posting hilarious jokes under your name, it’s the more sinister abuse of your personal information.
There are steps you can take against these intrusions, both on Facebook and on the wider web. The latter boils down to making sure your passwords can’t be guessed, worked out through social engineering, or put together from multiple sources. They need to be long, too, so a brute force attack — which tries multiple passwords extremely quickly — takes much longer to work through the permutations. No using your date of birth or the name of your cat, either, unless you know the secret name Mr Tickles only tells other cats.
1 DISABLE PLATFORM
The nuclear option. Turning off Platform prevents the integration of Facebook with apps and games, disables the ability to log into websites using your Facebook ID, and stops friends’ Facebook apps accessing your personal information. Turning Platform off might be inconvenient, but its security benefits are undeniable. Find it in Settings, under ‘Apps and Websites’ [Image A].
2 INCREASE PRIVACY
Facebook is finally clamping down on access to your data, but there’s more you can do to hide things. Under Settings > Privacy [Image B], you can change who sees your posts, with several levels of control. ‘ Public’ posts are just that — public. Anyone can see them. ‘Friends’ means only Facebook friends can see your posts, and you can control this further by excluding people.
3 LIMIT ACCESS
Still in Settings > Privacy, if you want to stop specific people seeing your posts, you can [Image C]; you can also specify friends who can see your posts while excluding everyone else. There’s also ‘Only Me’, which restricts the visibility of your posts to just you. It makes Facebook awfully quiet, but is the most private you can get. There’s an array of custom settings, too.
4 PRIVACY CHECK-UP
One way to check your privacy settings is to use the Privacy Check-up feature, found by dropping down the
“Facebook is finally clamping down on access to your data, but there’s more you can do to hide things.”
question mark menu at the top-right of Facebook’s interface. This takes you through common settings, including whether those people who can see when your birthday is can also see the year you were born. There’s also a shortcut to the privacy settings.
5 CREATE A STRONG PASSWORD
The key to a strong password is creating something you will remember but no one else can guess. Long strings of random characters are tricky to commit to memory, but a password made up of three words is much easier to recall: “Horse Duck Gibbon,” for example. Extra capital letters and a number on the end decrease the chance of cracking it. The longer you can make it, the better [Image D].
6 USE TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
Two-factor authentication involves a message being sent to your mobile after you have entered your username and password, with a code that you then type into the website to verify that it’s actually you. It means trusting the site in question with your phone number, but if someone guesses your password, they’re unlikely to have stolen your phone, too, and this tips you off about any login attempts [Image E].
7 USE A PASSWORD MANAGER
Password management apps — such as 1Password, Keeper, and True Key — sit between you and the website you’re logging in to. They generate and store your passwords — strong, long, random sequences that you might struggle to recall but apps have no problem remembering. When you log into the management app, it supplies the password directly to the site. They usually require a monthly subscription, though.
8 DELETE APPS YOU DON’T USE
Under ‘ Settings > Apps and Websites’, you’ll find a list of apps and sites you’ve approved for access to your Facebook account. If you no longer use — or don’t recognise — any of them, you can revoke their access or edit the kind of data they have access to [Image F]. Also check the Expired tab for apps you may not have used recently, and which can no longer make requests for data.
9 LOG OUT WHEN FINISHED
It may sound simple, but this is one of the best security measures you can take, especially if you share your PC with others. Logging out [Image G] puts an obstacle in the way of those who would use your social media accounts for evil, particularly the jokers who send messages in your name. Of course, if you’ve set your browser to remember your password, then logging out is no defence at all.
10 DEACTIVATE YOUR ACCOUNT
If you’re considering ditching Facebook completely, but aren’t quite sure, this is the alternative. Deactivation is not the same as deleting — if you ever log back into Facebook, perhaps when redirected from another site, your account will reactivate, and pop back up again, just as it was when you deactivated it. To do it, head to Settings > General. Click Edit next to ‘Manage Account’, then ‘Deactivate your account’ [Image H]. One more click, and you’re free.