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A Guide to Secure Social Media Browsing


Data breaches across entities have spiked over the COVID-19 pandemic, directly proportional to the parents’ never-ending worry about their child’s safety across internet mediums, especially social media platforms. In 2021, the average cost of a data breach increased to $4.24 million, up from $3.86 million the year before. According to the latest IBM Cost of Data Breach Report, it was at a 17-year high.

To commemorate the 19th edition of the ‘Internet Safer Day’ themed ‘Together for a better internet,’ stakeholders from all over the world have banded together to make the internet a safer and more enjoyable place. They also look at making the internet a less risky environment for children and teenagers. The major goal of this day is to strengthen ties and partnerships with countries that are not part of the network. Responsible stakeholders think that by purchasing this bond, they are investing in a globally coordinated campaign promotion. On the occasion of this day, here are certain features to enable a safe browsing experience across social media platforms.

‘Take a Break’ from Instagram
In many countries, including India, Instagram has launched a new feature called 'Take a Break.' Take a Break will remind Instagram users to step away from the platform and focus on other things on a regular basis. The platform will also send out a notification to users informing them of the new addition. Expert-backed advice to help users reflect and reset can also be found on Instagram. Instagram uses alerts to notify teens about this function and encourages them to turn on the reminders.

Limits: This feature hides comments and DM requests from people who are not one’s followers or who have only recently started following that individual. Limits will allow individuals to hear more from their long-time followers while limiting contact from persons who are only interested in contacting you for marketing purposes. By navigating to privacy settings, individuals can quickly enable this option.

Control Comments: This tool filters out any offensive words and phrases, as well as bullying remarks. Individuals can also make a list of words or emojis that they don't want to see in the comments section on Instagram. Go to ‘Filters’ in the Comment Controls section to activate this.

Hidden Words: Hidden Words on Instagram allows you to screen out any DM requests that are unwelcome, spammy, or nasty. Offensive words, phrases, and emojis are automatically filtered into a hidden folder.

We have observed many existing attackers adding exploits of these vulnerabilities in their existing malware kits and tactics, from coin miners to hands-on-keyboard attacks, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center said

Sensitive Content Control: Instagram has limited the appearance of certain posts that the community has flagged for containing sensitive information in an effort to combat hate speech, bullying, and harmful content on the network.

Restrict: When you enable the Restrict function, comments on your posts from people you've restricted will only be accessible to them. A limited account will not receive any comment notifications.

Manage like counts: Instagram has added the ability to hide like counts on all posts in your feed, which can be found in the New Posts section of Settings. You'll also be able to hide like counts on your own posts so that others can't see how many people like them, and you may do this post by post.

Support request: This is where you can keep up with reports that have been filed and get updates on any account infractions. This is done in order to increase openness by allowing everyone to see their complaints and violations. It also gives consumers a specific area to appeal judgments that they don't agree with, ensuring that our systems are fair.

Personalized Family Choices from YouTube
YouTube has a variety of personalized options for families. For example, YouTube provides tools and controls to assist parents and caregivers in determining what kind of YouTube experience is ideal for their child. YouTube Kids provides a safe space for children to explore their hobbies and curiosity while also providing parents with the options to tailor the experience.

Manage your data: Users can simply browse, erase, pause their search, or watch history using this YouTube tool. Any videos users remove from their history will no longer affect their recommendations, and any inquiries they remove from their history will no longer appear as history suggestions in their search box.

Incognito mode: This feature allows users to surf secretly in a session, preventing their account's search and watch history from being shared with their logged-in account.

Two-step verification: Users can check their password strength while managing third-party apps that have access to their account data.

Up next comes the Google security check-up that ensures to tighten the user’s security which is prone to comprising their google account in the future.

Click on 'Manage your Account'
Users can click on their profile picture and click on ‘Manage your account,’ which will take them to the security tab. Here Google will segregate users’ security checkup page under sub-sections like ‘Your devices,’ ‘Sign-in and recovery,’ and ‘Third-party access.’ It will locate sections marked with a yellow alert icon and will suggest certain security measures.

Next, users can remove access from their Google account across older devices no longer in use, like smartphones and tablets.

Users can add additional ways to sign in and restore their Google account on Google's website. This is significant as having a backup email address (that doesn't have to be a Gmail address) can help users retrieve their Google account if users lose their password. Users can see here if any Google account settings have been altered, updated, or if the account has been connected to a new device recently. If users can see any unusual activity, Google will prompt them to take action, such as signing out of an unknown device or resetting their password.

If users have used their Google account to log into games or services, they will find a log of all that information in this section. Look for services or games that are no longer used and sign out of them.

Popular brands across industries were embroiled in some of the largest data breaches in 2021. The LinkedIn professional network, which is owned by Microsoft, announced in June that a hacker had gained access to the data of 500 million users, including phone numbers and email addresses. Volkswagen claimed hackers gained access to the personal information of over 3.3 million consumers, including mailing addresses, phone numbers, and car information. In November, a problem was discovered in the Log4j package used in Java, a cross-platform software used in almost a billion devices.

"We have observed many existing attackers adding exploits of these vulnerabilities in their existing malware kits and tactics, from coin miners to hands-on-keyboard attacks", the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center said in the updated guidance.

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