Knowing how to protect yourself from social media network threats in today’s world is a skill you should have as soon as possible. An attacker’s strategies vary depending on the social media network targeted.
Because some social networks like Facebook permit users to keep their photographs and comments private, an attacker will frequently friend a targeted user’s friends or submit a friend request straight to a targeted user to gain access to their postings. If an attacker can connect to several of the targeted user’s friends, the targeted user is more likely to accept the friend request based on the number of linked friends.
Protecting personal information from social media network threats?
Whatever platforms you use, there would be traces of your private life on your networks. You have shared some of this information with the public while others are those you’ve created unknowingly. There are several ways you can keep your private life away from malicious individuals.
#1 Set up 2 Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication means that the application or service you’re logging into double-checks that the request is coming from you by confirming the login with you through a different venue.
Even if you weren’t aware of it, you’ve undoubtedly used 2FA before. You’ve completed a multi-factor transaction if a website has ever sent you a numeric code to enter to gain access, for example.
2FA is critical for web security since it eliminates the risks associated with compromised passwords right away. If a password is hacked, guessed, or phished, it is no longer sufficient to grant access to an intruder: without approval from the second factor; the password is useless.
2FA also accomplishes something crucial to maintaining a strong security posture: it actively engages users in the process of staying secure, creating an atmosphere in which users have informed participants of their digital safety.
#2 Screen Your Friends List
As you use most social media platforms, your list of followers and friends would spike up. Many reports of a security breach on social media platforms usually involved someone an acceptance of a strange friend request.
While it is great that you are growing your social media platform, you must make sure you scrutinize any friend’s request and your friends’ list. Hackers study you for some time before launching an attack, that’s why they first have to be on your friends’ list before they can make their move.
Remember, you are going to be posting stuff about yourself regularly. So you have to make sure, that what you’re doing on your social media is for trusted friends who would not use the information you share on the platform against you.
#3 Customize Your Privacy Settings
Most social media platforms provide you with the option to alter who gets to see your timeline and posts. On the platform, you would find this customization feature in the “privacy setting”. The social network would contain your information and would be linked to other sensitive platforms like Spotify, you must be concerned about your online privacy.
Let’s take this real-life event of a female celebrity for instance. Katy Perry is a worldwide superstar who has also made the mistake of sharing too much information on her timeline. In 2015, the pop singer shared a video of herself with her puppy on social media. Perry overlooked the fact that the tiny guy’s tags had her phone number on them. Fortunately, other fans alerted her, but not quickly enough to prevent her from having to deactivate the number.
Another incident was with billionaire Elon Musk who tweeted publicly instead of sending a “DM”- intending to communicate with one person. He tweeted his phone number on Twitter publicly and a landslide flow of calls from anyone who saw the tweet followed this.
You don’t need to be a computer geek to adjust your privacy setting. You can adjust your Facebook or Twitter accounts.
#4 Use Complex Password
Setting up complex passwords is the number one step you ought to take when signing up for any platform on the internet. With social media, you need even extra precaution. The importance of passwords cannot be over-emphasized.
Passwords are your computer’s and personal information’s first line of defense against unwanted access. Your computer will be safer from hackers and bad malware if you use a strong password. For all of your social media accounts- use strong passwords. Here are some characteristics of a good password you could use in keeping your social media account protected.
- Unique Password
- Must be void of personal information like date of birth.
- Avoid easy to predict combinations.
- No one else should know them.
- If you’re having a hard time remembering them, use a password manager.
- If you use your social media account on a device, that’s not yours, always remember to log out.
- Should be at least 8 characters long. That way, it becomes even more difficult for hackers to guess.
- Always connect to a secured Wi-Fi connection. Hackers may intercept your connection and steal your password.
- Use different characters. You shouldn’t use a password that contains only letters or numbers. Be messy, add some “@”, “-“, “(“, etc.
If you secure passwords and used strong ones, you’d worry less about someone trying to guess the key to your life.
#5 Use Password Managers
Have you set up a very good password but often can’t remember it? I know the feeling.
A password manager is a piece of cybersecurity software that allows you to generate and store hundreds of strong, unique, and complex passwords in a secure vault.
It may appear to be dangerous. After all, you’re entrusting all of your credentials to one person. The truth is rather different. Good password managers use advanced encryption techniques to protect your vault, and with today’s technology, this encryption is virtually unbreakable.
Great password managers have zero-knowledge architecture, which implies that only the vault owner has access to the passwords stored within.
#6 Lock Your Phone
Locking your phone is the first security measure you must take to safeguard your device from malicious intrusion. Putting a screen lock on your device may prevent an unwarranted user from accessing your device.
Data leaks don’t happen over the wireless network, a stranger who can access your phone can infiltrate the most private part of your life. The same goes for your social media platforms, leaving your phone without a phone lock might not sound dangerous but let’s say you lose your phone. Any stranger can get into your phone and steal sensitive information.
Your Mobile phone manufacturer gives you several options to lock your phone; pattern lock, pin, password, and sometimes fingerprints or face id lock. Either of the above-named forms of mobile phone security would suffice in keeping your social network data private.
#7 Watch out for Suspicious Friends
Some social networks like Facebook allow you to add up to 5000 friends. As you know already, you would not be keeping close touch with most of the people on your friend list. From time to time, you would see posts from some of your friends on your timeline.
This is where your vigilance is required. Watching out for suspicious activities on your timeline is one of the many ways your can keep your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat secure. You might be doubtful of the level of security threat on Facebook since it does its best to protect you from hackers. However, Facebook is not safe from hackers, and your activities on the platform play a huge role in protecting your data.
#8 Use Internet Firewalls
Firewalls reduce the time it takes for your computer to connect to the internet. Consider it like an extremely high-level security guard who watches your computer if someone is not on the guest list, and if they do not leave you with authority, you are told to shut it down.
It monitors and filters incoming and outgoing network traffic under the security policies established by the firm. It lives between an intranet internal network and a public intranet, from which a private Internet connection is obtained.
As we have described, firewalls are the protectors of your internet activities. Having one installed on your phone or computer would give you an extra layer of security against threats from hackers.
#9 Keep Sensitive Information Private
Given that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, allow users to share information in different formats, it can be tempting to use them to send sensitive information. Most times, the users are not aware of the amount of their sensitive data available to strangers. For instance, Posting photographs can often increase interaction with your account; however, keep in mind that all images carry metadata.
The metadata might include a variety of information, such as the location of the photograph, the day and time it was shot, the model and make of the camera, and more. While most social networking sites remove this information, others do not. Always consider twice before uploading an image on the internet. Photo tagging is also a popular feature on many social media platforms.
Because tagged photos are not individually validated, you may be connected with images in which you are not even present or with which you do not wish to be associated. To eliminate this risk, alter the photo tagging setting to prohibit anyone from tagging your photos.
#10 Use Different Passwords
It’s easy to fall into the trap of using the same password for all of your accounts. I understand how difficult it is to remember all the passwords we use. Reused passwords, on the other hand, are a serious threat, but remembering dozens, if not hundreds, of different passwords is practically difficult.
Strong, complicated passwords with upper and lowercase characters, digits, and symbols are even more difficult to remember. If you use passwords like “qwerty” or “password123,” your chances of falling prey to Credential Stuffing rise tenfold.
If you use the same passwords for different social network accounts and a hacker gets access to one of those accounts, he has successfully hacked your social networking experience. In scenarios like this, it may be impossible to retrieve your account since the hacker can alter any of the recovery information and backup that you’ve set up. Never use the same password twice.
The threat to Social Media Network Security
Using social media for reconnaissance isn’t only about gathering information to steal data. Social networking information could gain passwords or impersonate corporate users. Many online accounts enable users to reset their passwords by answering a security question. An attacker may predict the answer to these security questions based on the private information provided by a targeted user if they had enough information from social media posts.
Another social media threat is brand impersonation. With enough information gained, an attacker can imitate a business brand to deceive customers into sending money, disclosing private information, or providing account credentials to an attacker.
There are several ways an attacker can sabotage your online profiles, it depends on their goals. When the hacker gets access to your social media accounts, he would have access to the following.
Access to your friends and family
You are most likely going to be connected to your most important friends, and family. The attacker, after gaining access to your account could see your private information. He might craft dubious messages sent to family and friends and might start conversations to draw out more information from the unsuspecting victim.
The victims of the attack -with the impression of talking to the original owner- may give sensitive information without a second thought. They may also be at risk of financial threat from the attacker as he would pose as you.
Access to other accounts associated with social networks
You can use your social media accounts are commonly used to register for other social services. For example, you use your Gmail accounts to sign up for a variety of other services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and others. If a hacker gets assess to one of these, then he could do a lot of damage. The attacker can change the passwords of other accounts if he gets access to your Gmail login details.
Attackers that get a hold of Gmail accounts quickly change the passwords of other social networks because it is most likely that your Gmail address is the same one you’re using for other social media accounts.
Link to your online stores
Some online stores like Amazon and eBay allow users to register on their platforms with their social media accounts. This cuts down the stress of registration and eases the strain of having too many passwords. However, this is a dangerous loophole that is often exploited by attackers.
If your online store’s activity is linked with your social media account, then it becomes easy for the attacker to purchase items in your name. The hacker can also access your credit card details from the online stores.
Link to your bank account
You can now access all of your finances from your mobile phone. A bank will usually provide an official app through which you may log in and check your account. While this is useful, it has also become a popular attack vector for malware producers.
Hackers can get your bank information by carefully observing your activities on your mobile phone. They can use a variety of methods like Phishing to steal your identity and carry out dubious scams with your bank data. With access to your mobile device via your Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms, Hackers can use a variety of tools at their disposal to tamper with your bank account.
A hacker may target interactions between you and your bank’s website to obtain your information. Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks, as the name implies, occur when a hacker intercepts messages between you and a legitimate provider.
Use your account as an alias to commit financial scams
To achieve this, the scammer would have to steal your identity. In cyber security, this is known as identity theft. To carry out this kind of scam, hackers would usually target your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is known for business networking, and users’ networks are often filled with coworkers and other employees from the same company. If an attacker wants to collect business emails for a phishing assault, LinkedIn is a good social networking site to use.
A large corporation may have multiple networked employees who list their employer and titles. An attacker can utilize this publicly available data to identify several employees who have access to financial information, sensitive customer data, or high-privilege network access.
How to Spot threats On Your Social Media Accounts?
The most important take-home point in protecting your data from an attacker is to be cautious of your social media activities. The social media ‘providers’ can only do so much as to provide you with the tools to safeguard your accounts. There are certain signs that you can do to prevent unwarranted access to your social media accounts.
Seeing a post on your timeline you didn’t make
One of the first signs of a hijack of your account would see a post that you haven’t made. You might also see activities like a change of password notification and privacy settings. If you’re fast enough, you might avert the attempt at taking over your accounts.
You would most likely see a post with a picture that is unfamiliar to anyone you know. Another tip to look out for is the change of location on your account. Avoid engaging people who have had their accounts hacked too.
The first sign of a hacked account is when someone hacks your account like Facebook and changes your profile picture. If you are lucky to spot this early, you may be able to retrieve your details by quickly changing your passwords and “signing off on all other devices”.
Mostly, the profile picture would be of an individual who is in a luxurious location. Hackers use such pictures to attract attention. Another profile picture profile you should look out for is that of a beautiful woman at a luxurious place.
Change in Login Location
Hackers would often change the location indicated on your timeline in the process of taking over your account. Although this depends on the intent of the attacker, it’s one of the many signs of a hacked account.
Blocked Access to your social media accounts
When you can’t log in to your account even though you have put in the right password and username, it means that your account has been hacked. You can request a change of password on the platform and quickly change the password of the account. Once you gain access to the account, you should sign off all logged-in devices.
If you can’t access any of these, then it is important that you inform all your friends and family, and also disconnect any connection that the breached account has with any other online services.
Unfamiliar friend list
While you may not be too conscious of every name on your friend list, you should often investigate. Most of your friends would be people you had a connection in your life. Check the number of mutual friends you share with members of your friend list.
Unfollow people who have no similar connections with you. Also, be on the lookout for people who are from countries you do not recognize. You can tell by looking at the name of the suspicious profile.
Multilevel Marketing Ads
Anytime you see a multilevel marketing ad on your timeline you should be very vigilant- as there might be an attacker lurking around waiting for you to make a mistake. Avoid engaging in such posts as you would attract attackers who are looking to exploit the greed of people by posting scandalous money-making schemes.
Social media networks are fantastic tools for staying in touch with friends, family, and coworkers. Understanding the potential risks associated with these sites is critical to properly enjoying and using them. Your online actions may reveal too much information about your identity, location, affiliations, and relationships, increasing your risk of identity theft, targeted violence, and/or stalking. On the internet, no one is anonymous. Nothing posted is private. Take every measure possible to safeguard yourself from social media network threats.