Who doesn’t love social media? Whether it’s the trendy photos on Instagram, the silly videos of Tik Tok, or keeping up with family on Facebook, social media can do it all. Aside from the internet itself, few things have had such a massive impact on the way we socialize, do business, keep up with the news, etc.
As fantastic as social media is, it’s not without its threats. You need to be on the lookout for these different cyber-attacks to prevent them from happening to you.
Think Beyond Social Media
There are a few essential things to consider before going ahead and reviewing the threats on social media. Every time you go online, and that includes social media, it’s easy for anybody to find out your IP address. Your IP address identifies your devices and can be used to track your online activities.
Asking your search engine “how to hide my IP” would bring up a couple of different ways. You can use a Tor browser, proxy service, or a VPN. But for the average user, VPNs are the best way to go. They both hide your IP address and encrypt your connection. Talk about a privacy win-win.
1. Fake Profiles
The only people who haven’t seen a fake profile on social media are those who haven’t been using it for very long. But it is easy to underestimate how dangerous fake accounts can be. You may hear stories of con artists impersonating celebrities on social media. But there are more frequent attacks that hit closer to home.
These days, hackers often impersonate a CEO, CFO, or other senior corporate officials to engage in a broad range of attacks. This way, they gather information about the company, stir false news to lower stock prices, and threaten employees.
There’s no target too small. Keep a sharp eye out, and always make sure you know whom you communicate with.
2. Social Engineering
Social engineering scams have existed since well before the internet. Fraudsters use psychological manipulation to trick people into revealing sensitive information.
Nowadays, these attacks usually happen via email in corporate settings. But hackers also use social media since it’s so easy to create an account and contact someone. A cybercriminal doesn’t even have to talk to you directly. They can glean enough information from your profile to plan an attack on you or someone you know.
3. Fake News
Fake news only seems to be getting worse on social media. It doesn’t matter what the platforms do to put an end to it; it keeps spreading. Everyone knows that Russian trolls created massive fake news campaigns to influence the 2016 election. And that was just the tip of the fake news iceberg.
If you think that can’t happen again, think again. Fake news continues to be a problem around the world. More recently, fake news about the coronavirus creating a host of issues in the real world.
Cyberbullying doesn’t happen only to kids in school. It can affect people of all ages. It is any form of mental or sexual harassment, including vulgar messages, pictures, threats, and humiliation.
There are a few reasons why cyberbullying is so common, including:
- Users aren’t aware of potential risks on social media nor how to use privacy and other settings to block and report malicious users.
- Policymakers do not understand how to deal with these issues.
- Investment in technologies to counter these threats is minimal.
- Users do not realize the importance of what they share on social media.
Reconnaissance is a passive attack. Instead of creating fake profiles, scammers glean information from real ones. They gather and analyze data to conduct attacks on individual users.
For example, many people use their child’s or pet’s names for their password or account security questions. Anyone can discover this information on social media. While it seems innocuous enough on its own, it can be enough to create profiles that threat actors leverage against their victims.
Protect Yourself on Social Media
You don’t have to abandon social media to prevent a cyber-attack. But you need to make a few small adjustments. Go ahead and do this now:
- Turn all your social profiles from the public to private.
- Disable Google from indexing your social profile.
- Eliminate contacts you do not know or out of touch with.
- Disable location sharing.
- Remove unnecessary personal information from your profile.
- Review all privacy settings.