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Facebook Safety Tips for 2012
By: wubayou
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    Now that we have finally moved on into 2012, there are many things to look forward too, especially in the online world. Thereís little doubt that Facebook has plenty of new tricks up its sleeve for the new year, and we can probably expect some changes in the realm of design and security from the social network. Unfortunately, with the good also comes the bad, as cybercriminals and hackers get craftier with their malicious ways. Facebook does open the door for some privacy problems, but that does not mean you should cancel your account. Instead, follow these safety tips so you can enjoy a social and safe 2012 on Facebook.

    Limit App Usage

    Apps on Facebook are tempting, as they can give you some added functionality or even fun through gaming.  Unfortunately, Facebook has had its share of apps that only aim to spam or steal your personal information.  It seems that as time passes, the presence of apps on Facebook is increasing.  There are certainly plenty of solid, trustworthy apps in circulation, but there are others that you must keep an eye on too.

    When you are about to use an app, review all the permissions it is requesting prior to approval.  Is the app simple in form and functionality?  If so, it should not ask for a ton of permissions and should not need to view items such as your photos and wall posts. 

    A nice added feature from the folks at Facebook is the creation of app passwords.  These can be used to log into your apps directly, so you wonít need to use your Facebook password.  Making use of app passwords adds an extra layer of protection to your account, and itís easy to activate.  Go to Account Settings, click the Security tab, and click Edit next to App Passwords.  From there, you will be able to generate app passwords with ease.

    Conceal as much Information as Possible

    Yes, Facebook is a social site.  That does not mean that you should share all your personal details with the world, however.  Things that you may deem as harmless can actually be used by clever hackers against you.  Take your birthday, for instance.  You may want to keep this public to get extra birthday wishes on your special day, but a hacker could use it if presented with a security question while trying to hack one of your online accounts.  Depending on how paranoid you are, you also might want to conceal your location.  Friends lists are another item that can be used against you.  If you have someone listed as your mother, father, brother, sister, etc, their name could be the answer to a security question.  Hence, itís best to keep these things private and amongst your friends only.  The less ammo you leave out there, the better off you are.

    Avoid Check-ins

    Using Facebookís check-in feature can help you direct your friends to where you are.  It can even help you get free drinks or other promotional items when you check into certain bars or stores.  These are some nice perks, but advertising your location has major drawbacks.  There have been instances of criminals using a personís check-in data to stalk them and commit crimes.  Some people have had their homes broken into after notifying the Facebook world that they were away.  A smart hacker could even use such data to lure you into one of their traps, as they might say they met you somewhere at a certain time.

    Whatever the trick or threat may be, using the check-in feature is simply not worth the risk.  While you yourself can avoid the temptation to check into a place using Facebook, your friends may want to check you into places without you even knowing it.  You can disable this possibility via the Privacy Settings.  Go to the How Tags Work section, and click on Edit Settings.  Look for the Friends Can Check You Into Places option, and make sure it is turned off.

    Enable the Secure Browsing Feature

    If you have read any internet security articles in the past, you have probably heard of HTTPS and SSL encryption that can help offer more secure connection while browsing.  This is typically noted as a must-have for any online banking transactions, email browsing, or if you plan on making an online purchase.  Such encryption is pretty easy to detect when activated, as it is denoted by the https before each website address, as well as a small closed lock icon that shows up in the address bar or other areas, depending on your browser of choice.  In Google Chrome, for instance, the https prefix is also highlighted in green.

    Facebook decided to offer secure browsing through SSL encryption to give its users some added peace of mind.  The secure browsing feature can be enabled or disabled as you like, but itís obviously a smarter choice to have it turned on, especially if you are one who tends to browse Facebook in public using an unsecured Wi-Fi network.  After all, the last thing you want to have is tech savvy hackers in your close proximity snooping on all your social networking moves. 

    Enabling secure browsing on Facebook is quite simple.  All you have to do is go into the Account Settings section of your profile, which can be accessed from the top right-hand corner of your page.  Click on the downward pointing arrow, followed by Account Settings.  On the right-hand side, click the Security tab.  You will see the Secure Browsing section under the Security Settings heading.  Make sure it says that it is enabled.  If not, click the Edit button to enable it.

    Do Not Forget to Log Out

    It may seem like obvious advice, but remembering to log out of your Facebook sessions is quite important.  If you access your account at the library, at an internet cafť, or even at a friendís house, you must log out when you are finished to protect your privacy. 

    Since you are human, mistakes can occur, and you can forget to log out.  You can fix this problem through your Account Settings.  Click on the Security tab, and look for the Active Sessions section.  You will see the current session, as well as the last time your account was accessed.  The location and device type, including the browser and operating system, will be displayed.  If you notice the session and want to log out of it securely on a remote basis, simply click End Activity.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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