Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media


Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media

This is an unusually long blog by ourselves but as we at Gorselands encourage you to like and follow our social media we feel it is only right to pass on tips sent to us by Dorset Police Cybercrime prevention office to help keep you all safe online.

Cybercriminals can be incredibly convincing, and it’s easy to see how some people fall victim. Especially when the messages appear to be coming from a trusted contact.

So I thought I’d take the time to put together a brief summary of the ways hackers and scammers use our social media profiles against us.
Fear not! It might make for pretty bleak reading, but there are tips along the way to make social media as safe as possible!

Here we go…

1) Harvesting details from our profiles.
Have you ever taken the time to consider what you’re putting on your social media profiles?

Sometimes the hackers don’t have to hack at all. Sometimes we hand our information over on a silver platter.

Some people are surprisingly liberal with what they share on social media, with dates of birth, addresses and phone numbers being quite common. If people share too much data, scammers can piece things together to stand a reasonably good chance of impersonating someone.

Another thing to consider is your password. I’d like to think everyone is using long, strong, complex passwords, but the reality is most are probably still using some combination of a name (a child, pet, or place for example) and the year they were born. Can people figure those details out from your posts? All those puppy pictures and birthday messages could be giving away more than you thought.


Think about what you’re sharing. If you wouldn’t share it with a stranger, don’t share it on social media. Take the time to check your privacy settings. Setting your account to private means only approved contacts or friends can see what you post, meaning you’re safe from prying eyes.

2) Fake friends:

You’ve got your profile set to private, and no one but trusted friends and family can see what you’re posting. Excellent!

This, however, is a relatively small barrier for a scammer to overcome if you don’t pay attention to your friend requests.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve received friend requests from people around the world. Maybe I’ve prematurely shut the door on some wonderful friendships. More likely though, I’ve just avoided the start of a sextortion scam, or blocked someone from snooping on my profile.

3) Phising and Malware:

Phishing is something we more commonly associate with emails. Badly worded messages promising payouts from a Nigerian General, refunds due from HMRC, or mysterious purchases made on our Amazon accounts, for instance.

However, cybercriminals have cottoned on to the fact that social media is a veritable goldmine of potential victims. All a phishing attack needs to guarantee success is enough victims to target. Eventually, they’ll find someone who will fall for their scam.

There are many ways a phishing link can be delivered. On a Facebook newsfeed, a direct message, a post on your wall… the possibilities are endless.

One particular example that sticks in our minds was delivered through a Facebook competition in which users were encouraged to like and share a post for their chance to win an £85 gift voucher for a major supermarket chain.

On doing this, the users were sent a message containing a link supposedly taking them to a site from which they could download their gift voucher. But clicking this link actually took them to a website that tried to install malicious software on their computer.


Be careful where you click. Take the time to check the source of any link you stumble upon, particularly if it’s offering something that seems too good to be true.

A quick pro tip - if you hover your mouse over any link or button in an email or website, the true address should be displayed in the bottom corner of your screen. If the link claims to be from a reputable company, but the true address looks wildly different, it’s probably a scam.

A quick point about the “like and share” competitions on Facebook – genuine companies often use these to grow their online presence. Don’t assume they are all fake. However, at the same time, don’t assume they’re all real!

Before you like and share, click into the page. Have a look around and see if it looks genuine. The “About” section of any Facebook page will tell you how old the page is, and whether it has been called something different in the past. We’ve seen scam pages change their name from that of a reputable jewellery store to that of a reputable pizza company, which should be a big red flag.

Also, think about how plausible the prize is. Why would a supermarket just give away gift vouchers? Add up all the likes, shares, and potential winners, and they’d be out of pocket by millions!

In the meantime, if you want to ensure you’re as safe as possible, make sure you use long, strong, secure and unique passwords for your social media accounts. This will help prevent someone guessing their way into your account.

Once your passwords are in order, make sure you turn on Two Factor Authentication. This acts as a safety net. Even if someone gets your password, they can’t get in to your account.

With all this in mind we hope you continue to follow our page and think of Gorselands whether you are booking a holiday  in Dorset or buying a holiday home in Dorset