a laptop with a screen that says “Beware Of...Well...Just Beware.”

Cybersecurity in the Age of Social Media

By Kaitlyn Benacquisto
Blog Content Contributor

2018 marks the 15th year of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. If you’re anything like me, you probably saying, ‘Who cares?’ I asked Texas State professor Gilbert Martinez why cybersecurity matters, and as it turns out, a lot is at stake when it comes to cybersecurity. As I learned from Professor Martinez, the first step is being educated.

“It basically boils down to protecting yourself and your information from being exploited or sold or used in ways that you don’t authorize,” said Martinez. So, it often relates to identity theft, it relates to stealing funds from bank accounts, and so forth.”

Again, if you’re anything like me, you’re nodding your head, but wondering why and how this applies to you. I don’t have enough money in my bank account to make it worth any hacker’s time, and I am definitely not interesting nor relevant enough for someone to “expose” me online. But, it’s not always about stealing your credit card or exposing your personal information. Often times, it’s about creating a profile on you to do other things with.

“Students think ‘nobody is seeing this or nobody cares what I’m posting about,’ but for someone that is paying attention, they might know that you have a dog, and your dog’s name is Fluffy, and you have a sister, and you like to spend your time at the beach and go to this restaurant, and all of a sudden, just from what is publicly available, they can gather a profile of who you are,” said Martinez.

Putting your social media on private seems like an one-step easy fix. Like most things in life, it is in fact not a one-step easy fix. Privacy settings are different for different social media platforms. Facebook has come a long way in privacy settings in lieu of their recent privacy breach. You can control who sees your posts and who shares them. Instagram and Twitter also have privacy settings that pretty much lock down your whole account to those who aren’t following you. However, Twitter is now the main platform for communication, marketing, and advertising that many people must use for their jobs.

“(Going private) is especially challenging for mass communication majors, for example, because social media is an essential part of mass communication. If you try to get a job with a newspaper, and they look at your social media and they see that it is all locked down, they will wonder, ‘Are you hiding something? What does this mean?’” said Martinez.

In other words, strategize: consider what you are posting and how much information you are sharing. Instead of going on a social media lockdown, just be smart.

Featured photo by Kaitlyn Benacquisto.

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