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How to prevent your identity being stolen on Facebook

8 steps to staying safe and secure on Facebook

In the past year there has been a sharp increase in fraud and identity theft on Facebook. We spoke to Janus R. Nielsen's, security expert from MySecurityCenter for advice on how you can avoid being a victim. 

Here are his eight simple tips for using Facebook safely. See also: Security advice and reviews

1- Password

The first step in the direction of better security is a strong password. It's getting harder to hack your account if you use both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and characters. Remember that Facebook is associated with an email account, which of course also should be protected by a strong password, and it's curcial to use a different password. It's also a good idea to change your password regularly to make it harder for hackers to access your profile.

2- Anti-virus and phishing

Be aware of hidden viruses, phishing and cookies. They are often stored in form of competitions, and can be sent to your friends, followers or connections that have been hacked. An antivirus program can give you a basic protection at the network, but it is still important to be careful.

I have seen many phishing emails and sites that look so real that they are hard to spot as fakes. Do not click on a link until you have studied the page in detail. It is also a good idea to hover your cursor over the link and see the URL that appears (typically in the status bar at the bottom). Also check the return address, if it is an email.

3- Take control of security settings

A few easy and effective measures can be found under Facebook's  Account Settings, which can be accessed by clicking in the top-right corner. Then click the upper-left corner of the 'security' and a series of useful security options will appear.

Facebook security settings

4- Safe Browsing

A general precaution when using social media such as Facebook is safe browsing. This means that you need to make sure that the URL starts with https, which will encrypt your activity, making it even harder for the hacker, even if you are logged into an unsecure Wi-Fi hotspot (such as in an airport or coffee shop). If you don't see https, it's unwise to use Facebook.

5- Get notified when a stranger logs on

If you enable Facebook "Login Notifications", you will receive an email or a text message whenever someone logs in to your Facebook account from another computer or mobile device that you don't normally use. That way you can quickly find out if your profile is hacked.

6- Additional login code

If you also click on the 'Login Approvals' you'll have to enter an additional security code when logging in from a new browser or mobile device. This code will be sent to your mobile phone, which means that security is doubled. See also: How to enable Google 2-step verification

7- Get rid of the hacker

Besides the two steps mentioned above, you can be aware of when, where and what device previously has logged into your Facebook account. You do this in 'Active sessions', and here you can also select the function 'exit any activity ', which logs any hacker out of your profile.

8- Make your profile invisible on the web

If you don't want your basic Facebook profile to be shown on Google and other search engines, you can make your profile invisible.  All you have to do is click Privacy Settings, and "I do not want that other search engines link to my timeline".

 About the authorJanus R Neilsen

Janus R. Nielsen is CEO and security expert of www.mysecuritycenter.com. Click here to get free PC optimisation - a special offer (which normally costs £30) for PC Advisor readers.

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