How your social media habits can lead to cyber-attacks?
published on February 10, 2021
By VINCENT COOK
We’re all on social media nowadays, with photos of our faces uploaded and who knows what other data. While it might be nice to share your day or your meal with friends and family, in this modern world we do have to be extremely careful of who else might be looking and why they might be doing so. Your social media habits might be conveying some fairly important details to some nasty people, and we have to start taking responsibility for the content we put up online and its impact. So, always think before posting that picture on Instagram. Does it contain any personal information? Will it be visible to the public? Does your location reveal anything? They’re not fun questions, but they’re definitely necessary ones.
How do cyber-criminals do it?
There are a few main ways that cyber criminals make use of social media to commit cyber-attacks. One of these is the spreading of malware. In these attacks, victims are enticed to click on a link that downloads malware onto their device which is then used by cyber criminals. The purpose of this malware can also vary, with some used to connect your device to a crypto mining network, some spyware used to monitor your activity, and some viruses just designed to spread and wreak havoc. This can also be used by criminals as a way of spreading ransomware, programmes that will lockdown a device or network unless a sum of money is paid to the cyber-criminal. We also see scams like phishing take place often, where passwords will be taken from a user. These passwords will then either be used to hold accounts to ransom or to access the account and potentially even financial details of the victim.
Why social media?
It is the freedom of social media and the massive amount of content that ends up being a double-edged sword for users. You can scroll through thousands of posts from hundreds of people, but some of these will be planted by cyber-criminals to lure you into making a mistake. The method might not be very sophisticated, but with the massive amount of people using social media nowadays cyber-criminals know that they can cast a wide net and get a significant result. When Instagram has over a billion active users per month, it does not take much for a cyber-criminal to find an unlucky victim by spamming fraudulent posts. This goes especially with social media users of older generations, who might not have grown up with the internet and social networks. They will usually be less aware of the idea that someone or something on the Internet is not what it seems. Children let loose with tablets or phones are also unusually susceptible, as they tend not to think before clicking a suspicious link and may end up putting their parents’ cyber security in danger.
What can people do to minimise the risk?
There are a lot of ways that people can do to minimise their social media risk, the most obvious of which is to change their privacy settings. Every social network will have their own settings, each suited to their own audience, but all will have settings to make profiles private or even hidden. You are able to choose who sees personal photos of you, who is able to see your personal details and who is able to find out this information just by searching your name. Facebook and Instagram for example have options to make profiles private to only friended and followed accounts, restricting access to only approved users. This simple step can go a long way in securing your information. Using secure passwords and setting up two-factor-authentication is also very useful. It will help to deter phishing scams and increase the general level of security of your online presence. Installing a good antivirus programme is also a good step as most malware programmes and links will be recognised and rejected by any good antivirus. The most complete protection is a full Close Digital Protection service, which will monitor your accounts, find your existing weaknesses and recommend ways to improve them. The risk that social media poses is one to take seriously, and it’s one that needs a well-rounded solution to cover all the potential gaps in our armour.
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