Secure Social Media: Modesty May Be the Best Policy

Among many social media users there is a lack of awareness regarding the varying security risks associated with social media behavior.

I am suggesting a new approach to social media security that allows users to influence potential outcomes, much in the way financial planners evaluate and project the risks associated with financial investments, so that objectives, risk tolerance and selected social media tools factor into the ultimate experience and potential reward of the investment.

Social media risk assessment
This analysis encompasses three key steps:

  • Objectives: Identify Purpose (Gain Employment, Dating, Promote Business)
  • Tool Selection: Review platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • Risk Dial: Determine level of risk tolerance and align personal security settings (i.e. Minimal, Moderate, High)

Most social media platforms allow users to share all, subsets or only minimal amounts of information. However, platforms do vary broadly and this can confuse users. The Social Media Risk Assessment (SMRA) assists by helping users apply the appropriate level of security based on objective.

Example: A user’s objective is to gain employment by leveraging their LinkedIn connections. The SMRA matrix is utilized to determine the level of exposure through the sharing of specific data:


Through this methodology, the user can easily identify the personal information they want to share. Risk tolerance can be increased, while simultaneously strengthening their security posture, by substituting specific personal information with high-level qualifiers. For example, if the user was previously employed by Microsoft, they can bolster security by simply showing that their past employer was a Fortune 100 software development firm. In addition, by following banking best practices surrounding account structuring, they can display initials instead of their full name. Nominal effort is required to leverage social media to meet objectives, while limiting risk.

I recommend consumers and small business owners embrace a security minded approach to meet objectives and optimize their social media investment while ensuring a secure online experience.

Larry Hurtado is the CEO and president of Digital Defense. Prior to joining Digital Defense in 2002, he was co-founder and president of International Operations for Elastic Networks Inc. He can be reached at

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.