Malware protection tips for social media users

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn… the list of social media sites people use almost daily seems to grow exponentially. Although these places may be bastions of free speech, collaborative thought and great destinations to mix and mingle with friends and family, they’re also hotspots where malware threats spread like wildfire.

Many of these social media sites are, of course, working diligently to stop malware threats before they’re launched, but viruses and spyware are often put into cyberspace and start attacking users’ computers before these sites ever even know they exist.

There are ways to increase your web security and protect yourself from a wide range of threats without making drastic changes to the way you use social media. Webroot offers the following:

  • Not accepting “friend requests” from people you don’t know. Such requests could contain links that launch malicious software and allows hackers access to your computer.
  • Installing antivirus software that offers real-time virus protection.
  • Reporting suspicious e-mails allegedly sent from the social media site to those who own and manage the site.
  • Watching for strange e-mails or links that appear to be from friends.
  • Avoiding the pitfalls of overconfidence. Although you may have the best antispyware or antivirus software available, nothing can help users avoid malware threats via social media like common sense – and making thoughtful decisions about their own online usage.
  • Choose a password wisely, making it different from one site to the next and incorporate numbers, letters and special characters like !, $, and *

For employers who allow their staff to use social media at work, an important, but often-overlooked step in web security is education and policy development.

By keeping your employees informed about the latest malware threats via social media and privacy policy changes, installing company-wide antivirus and antispyware software, and developing sensible policies about when and how to use these sites, you can help mitigate malware threats via social media and take advantage of the opportunities these online communities offer.

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