<p>Social media websites such as Facebook or MySpace are fun to use, but they've got some serious potential security issues the possibility of identity theft, brand hijacking, privacy breaches and online defamation, among others.</p> <p>The truth is that online, it's easier and faster for a con man or criminal to "friend" a potential victim than it is in the physical world. The "friendship" creates a false sense of trust that a criminal can use against his victims through <a alt="((CONLINK|6780|phishing%20))" href="">phishing </a> or other scams.</p> <p>Robert Siciliano, an identity-theft expert and McAfee consultant, has some useful advice on how to protect yourself when you visit social media sites. Click next to see them.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Register your full name on all social media sites.</strong>

<p> You should get your name on sites like Facebook and Twitter so that nobody else can get your name, Siciliano said. If someone else can get your name, then they can post your picture and pose as you.</p> <p>One quick way to cover yourself is to pay for services that will register your full name across <a alt="((CONLINK|6544|hundreds%20of%20social%20media%20sites))" href="">hundreds of social media sites</a> .</p> <p></p>

<strong>Set up Google Alerts for your own name and the names of your children.</strong>

<p> Google Alerts is a content-monitoring service offered by the search-engine giant that automatically notifies you about relevant content that you select.</p> <p>That way, if anyone is saying anything about you on social media sites, you're aware of it, Siciliano said.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Avoid clicking links in profiles or status updates on social media sites.</strong>

<p> A lot of these links can be infected by malicious software such as viruses, or they could lead you to spoofed websites, Siciliano said.</p> <p>A spoofed website is a website designed to look like an authentic website, but is really fake. It is usually used to get personal information from you.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Don't enter a lot of personal identifying information on social media sites.</strong>

<p> It's not a good idea to list your spouse's name, your children's names, your pets' names or your mother's maiden name, Siciliano said.</p> <p>All that additional information allows a bad guy to crack the code of a password reset and <a alt="((CONLINK|6526|change%20your%20password))" href="">change your password</a> on many different sites.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Maintain a businesslike, professional profile.</strong>

<p> It's not a good idea to post your everyday activities, like you just made a tuna sandwich, your kid just threw up in the kitchen, you're drinking alcohol, you're smoking this or that or you're at a bar, Siciliano said. There is such a thing as too much information, and people inherently judge you.</p> <p>What you post may affect your ability to get a job, get into school or find a mate. Remember, you can't completely delete an online post.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Don't post your whereabouts on social media.</strong>

<p> Don't let the world know you're in Acapulco with your toes buried in the sand drinking a margarita when your house is vacant and a burglar can rip you off, Siciliano said.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Be sure that your PC has updated antivirus security.</strong>

<p> Social media is part of the Web, and the Web is what ultimately infects your PC.</p> <p>If you have an old, outdated browser and an old, outdated operating system, then the infected links on a social media site can compromise your PC and allow for spyware, Siciliano said.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Lock down your privacy settings on social media sites.</strong>

<p> Most social media sites such as Facebook have <a alt="((CONLINK|2432|privacy%20settings))" href="">privacy settings</a> , but by default, most privacy settings are wide open.</p> <p>That means you're a sitting duck and anybody can see everything, Siciliano said. So lock down your settings with the full, utmost privacy so only the people you know, like and trust can see what's going on in your personal or professional life.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Be wary of whom you friend or whom you let into your social circle.</strong>

<p> While you may go through the effort of locking down your privacy settings, if you're friending people you don't really know, you're only as secure as they are, Siciliano said.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Always log out of social media sites.</strong>

<p> If you use a public PC at a college or a library, or if you use a friend's PC, you have to specifically log out of that site, Siciliano said.</p> <p>Just closing down the browser isn't enough because the next person who opens up the browser may find that he's still logged in as you.</p>

10 Ways to Protect Yourself on Social Media Websites