Lately, it seems there’s a story in the news almost every day about some type of security breach. Everyone – from massive financial institutions to government agencies – is at risk of becoming a victim. And if you use social media on a regular basis, you too may be placing yourself in harm’s way for a number of potential security risks. To keep yourself and your personal information safe from those who wish to do you harm, being aware of what those risks are and how to protect against them is critical. Let’s take a look.
Just as with any other password-protected account you have, your social media profiles should also be carefully guarded with strong and difficult-to-hack passcodes. Additionally, using unique passwords for each account can further protect your sensitive personal information from falling into the wrong hands. Social media continues to be a huge target for cybercriminals. Just take the 2012 LinkedIn data breach as an example. That one successful hacking event resulted in over 100 million compromised account credentials. Strong, unique passwords can keep you safe and mitigate any damages that may occur.
Social media accounts contain a plethora of personal information, from birthdays and contact details to family relations and work/educational history. Many people use this personal data as a security check for recovering their passwords. For instance, the security questions for your bank account might include the name of your eldest child or the town in which you grew up. It’s relatively easy for a hacker to obtain this information and then use it to gain access to your other password-protected accounts. Keep in mind that the more information you share, the more vulnerable you are and be mindful of the security questions you choose.
Email isn’t the only tool cybercriminals use to distribute viruses and malware. Social media accounts are an easy and effective channel for phishing campaigns. In fact, there have been plenty of reports of attackers using Facebook to distribute malicious browser extensions and ransomware. All it takes is for one compromised account to spread a malicious campaign to everyone on that person’s friend list and suddenly there are multiple breaches. As such, users should always be diligent about not clicking on anything that appears suspicious in any way.
Taking a Stance
Everyone is entitled to their own social and political beliefs, but when it comes to sharing such opinions on social media, users should be aware that doing so can make them targets of malicious hackers. These attackers with personal agendas, also known as “hacktivists” (such as Anonymous) are known for targeting social accounts that feature content considered to be edgy or controversial in nature. If you like to share your thoughts publicly via social media, you are free to do so, but just know that it may potentially place you at unnecessary risk.
Not Claiming What’s Yours
Fake social media accounts are incredibly common, and when they’re created by cybercriminals, they can wreak havoc – particularly for businesses. The practice, known as brandjacking, involves an attacker creating a web presence (such as a social media profile) that is designed to look like the official account. Once established, the hacker then publishes statements that are in stark contrast to the company’s best interest, essentially damaging their reputation. Some brandjackers also use fake accounts to lure unsuspecting users into sharing their personal information. To prevent this, stake claim to any social accounts that could be related to yourself or your business.
Social media is a great tool for staying in touch with the people you care about as well as connecting with brands and other causes that matter to you. If you’re not careful, however, your online social activity could result in your personal data being compromised. Being mindful of the risks listed about and taking the appropriate action can help you avoid becoming a victim.