Without a doubt, social media has become one of the foremost marketing tools in the world. In fact, it’s probably safe to presume that an entrepreneur of any kind who doesn't utilize the vast amount of social sites available to them will likely render their business virtually invisible.

However, as we become ever more integrated and comfortable with our various social media and blogging platforms, there is still a safety factor that many people tend to overlook.

As much as we’d like to think the opposite, not everyone in the cloud is playing fair. There are criminals searching the net daily, and they want to know everything about you. They’re using your social media sites to get the information they want, and you may be openly handing them the keys to your kingdom without even knowing it!

Of course, these security risks can be easily resolved with a few simple tricks - and some common sense.

The Moat Around Your Castle

Working in a virtual world allows you the freedom to move around, to work as you please, where you please. Quite often though, the more in depth facets of your job will be done at your home office. It’s where you feel safest, and more than likely it’s where you keep all of your important documents that don’t exist on a hard drive.

You might keep your bank statements, client lists and secured items locked up in what you believe is impenetrable vault - your home. For the most part you are probably correct, but that picture on Facebook of you and your friends celebrating your first big client on the back porch can give an attacker your exact location. You may say, “But you can’t see my address in the photo." This may be true, but remember: your social page probably lists your general location, and the digital photo your buddy took with his phone now contains the GPS coordinates of your house… All it would take is a simple drive through your neighbourhood to pinpoint exactly where your vault is kept.

It may be difficult, but if your business social page is open to the world in an attempt to reach out to the masses, avoid placing photos of your home office on your sites or profiles. Furthermore, don’t provide exact locations - ever.

The Status Timeline

Far too often we tend to announce our plans to the world. If the previous paragraph rung any bells of familiarity, telling the world that you’re going away on a conference and won’t be back until Sunday simply helps your attackers plan out their day. I’d like to say that I’m not trying to scare you - however that is not the case. Put on your criminal thinking cap for just a moment and pretend that you have been researching a particular victim. Through their social media sites you have managed to discover that they are single, live in a rural area, and will be gone from their home for at least a week. This not only gives you the time to plan, but also allows you to execute the theft of all of their valued information. Simple as that...

So how can you keep yourself safe from this situation?

It’s simple really. Wait until you return from the event to post any photos or funny anecdotes that may have occurred. If this is not possible, then make plans for someone to watch over your castle while you’re away and store your valuables in a separate, secret location while you’re away on your trip.

Social Security Zones

There are many aspects of our lives that we want to share with our friends and family. I personally have two separate Facebook accounts - my personal site that is locked down so tight that only my immediate family and friends that I trust are able to see what I post. I simply will not accept a friend request unless I know exactly who they are. The second site is my author’s page. It helps me boast to the world about all of the dreams that I am trying to achieve. It is filled with funny pictures and stories that I find amusing so that people can get an insight to what they might find in my writing. It is open for public viewing and shows nothing of my family or where I live.

Is it completely secure? Not even close. I receive requests to speak to people on the daily, and for the most part I have no issue with this. I like to think of myself as a friendly person. However, when the questions turn to ones of a personal nature, my fingers tense and I become tight lipped with quick one word answers to questions like, “Are you married?" “Have any kids?" “How old are you?". These may seem harmless enough, but information is a powerful weapon. Let’s face it, if they aren’t asking questions like, “So what does your product do and how can it help me?" then chances are they’re not looking to be a client.

Keeping Safe

Internet security is not simply your antivirus. It goes well beyond keeping the files in your system safe from hackers - it keeps them out of your personal life. Don’t let the idea of security keep you from branching out into the world, just remain diligent in the personal information that you share within it.