Social media platforms are, without a doubt, among the most popular corners of the internet today. In fact, more than half of the people on the planet communicate, post updates, and express themselves on social media. Unfortunately, many social network users are unable to effectively safeguard their accounts and privacy, leaving them vulnerable to different social media threats.
What are the most common security threats in social media?
Social networking sites usually keep a record of your name, birthday, email address, and other details that are in-demand among cybercriminals. Because of this, you are at risk of falling victim to:
- Account takeovers
If cybercriminals were to successfully steal your login credentials or hack into your social media accounts, they could lock you out and do what they please with your information. The possibilities are frightening. For one, a hacker can easily trick your friends into providing their personal information.
Hackers can also use the information in your profile to access your other online accounts. If any of your social media accounts are connected to an eCommerce site, for example, they can make purchases using your name and payment details. The number of account takeovers saw a dramatic increase in 2020.
- Social engineering
This refers to tactics a cybercriminal uses to gain their victims’ trust or manipulate them into giving away private information. Most social engineering tactics are psychological in nature and tap into people’s curiosity, greed, or fear.
For example, you may receive a phishing email or personal message informing you that your online accounts have been hacked. It then tells you to click on a link to a page where you can change your password or confirm your identity by logging in. Follow these instructions and you will unknowingly provide the hackers with your social media login details.
There are many ways in which cybercriminals can spread malware through social media. One of the most popular methods is phishing. To illustrate, you may receive a message telling you to click on a link to a text document, file, or video. Clicking on the link can cause malware to be downloaded to your device.
Alternatively, cybercriminals can post fake ads that lead to download pages for the malware. They may also tag you in posts with attractive content that, when clicked, will infect your system with malware.
- Data mining
You leave a distinct data trail in all of your online activities, including your social media posts or interactions. These could be everything from your name and address to which social network posts you engage with and what products you checked out last Friday. Social networks use these data to customize your feed and provide you with content you’ll likely find attractive.
Unfortunately, these data are sometimes given or sold to third parties. These details are mostly used to improve your experience on the internet, but you never know who really has access to them. For instance, it was discovered that the personal data of more than 500 million Facebook users was stolen and leaked on the dark web.
- Botnet attacks
Botnets are networks made of bots, which are programs designed to perform specific tasks. In social networks, bots can be programmed to like or share content that contains specific keywords or other characteristics.
Cybercriminals can use social media botnets to launch cyberattacks such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) campaigns. A DDoS attack can swamp your page with a massive volume of activity, preventing you from responding to customer queries or bringing your page down altogether.
How do you protect yourself from social media security risks?
Many social media threats require your input in order to succeed. Therefore, the best way to stay safe is to be wary of what you click on, who you interact with, and what you share online. If your social network supports multifactor authentication, make sure to take advantage of that. Furthermore, many cybercriminals create botnets by infecting thousands of computers with Trojans, so you must protect your devices with anti-malware software.
You need to cover all your bases if you want to truly protect your personal and business data. Needless to say, that includes taking the right precautions in social media. At In-Touch IT, we can help you stay safe from online threats through proactive cybersecurity.