Army Criminal Investigation Command is calling on all soldiers and their loved ones to scrub their social media accounts in light of recent world events.
In an announcement Thursday, special agents with CID's Computer Crime Investigative Unit are "strongly recommending" that anyone affiliated with the military review their social media accounts to make sure they're using the best security settings to protect their online profiles.
The announcement is part of a "continual effort to protect the force," as social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can provide cyber criminals with access to users' personal information, according to CID.
"It is vital that individuals stay on the alert and be personally responsible for their online presence to protect themselves, their loved ones and the Army," according to the CID announcement.
Some tips to help you protect yourself, offered by CID:
• The Internet does not forget.
Once something is posted on social media, it can spread quickly, and no amount of effort can delete it. Don't post anything you would be embarrassed to see on the evening news.
• You are not anonymous.
Cyber criminals have the capability to gather and exploit both individuals and organizations if the information is out there.
• More isn't always better.
Participating in multiple social networking sites significantly increases your risk, and it gives cyber criminals alternate ways to strike and gather information.
• Know the terms on social networking sites.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites frequently change their privacy and user policies. These settings default to everyone, which means anyone can view your profile, not just the people you know. Securely configuring your account will minimize who can see your information.
• Practice safe social networking.
Never disclose private information when using social networking websites. Be very selective who you invite or accept invitations from as criminals often use false or spoofed profiles to gain access to personal and private information such as birth dates, marital status and photographs.
• Click with caution.
Always use caution when clicking on links in social networking posts, even from someone you know. Reports of personal social networking accounts being hacked by criminals have increased in recent years. Clicking on a link that appears to be benign in nature may in fact contain embedded malware that can compromise your device.
• Hide your profile from search engines.
Go to the social networking site's account settings and uncheck the "Public Search Results" box. This will remove your public preview from Google, Bing and Yahoo search returns.
• Check-out and tag-out.
Do not use check-ins or post your specific location on social media. Prevent people from "tagging" you in photos and videos.
• Log-in tips.
Don't use your social networking site to log in to other sites. Don't use the save password, remember me, and keep me logged in options from a public or shared device. Use strong, unique passwords, and never use the same password for all online accounts.
• Install or update your anti-virus or firewall software.
Anti-virus and firewall software is a must for anyone to safety navigate online. Always keep your security software up-to-date. Also make sure your anti-virus software program updates automatically and scans your computer regularly.
For more specific information on how to safely configure your Facebook and Twitter accounts, the Computer Crime Investigative Unit has put together some how-to guides. You can download the guides here.
To learn more about computer safety and cyber-related crimes, visit the unit website here.