Just like we guard our resources, there has been an increasing need to protect our Social media platforms. Social media security has become of growing concern for its users. It is a vast network that connects billions of people around the globe.
Social Media is a social network that has taken the world by storm for its innovation. Today, social media not only helps us build connections with friends and family, and people around the world, but has also become an integral part of our life. It holds the key to our thoughts, livelihood, history, and memories.
What is Social Media Threat?
A social media threat might be anything that jeopardizes an account’s security. Because many people share their personal information on social media networks, it might be simpler to start an assault. Attackers can readily gather this information and exploit it to their advantage.
Phishing scams are one of the most common social media risks. It shows that the attacker has effectively got personal information via social media and exploited that information to email their target. These kinds of messages frequently persuade the recipient to click on an attached link, which sends the attacker sensitive information that they can use for blackmail.
Is Social Media Security a Threat?
Social media is also a platform where people keep private information. This information could be as photos, videos, audio, or some other type of file. Information is the building block of society, hence it requires proper management and regulations. No one wants to appear “ill” in the face of society. The explosive growth of social media platforms owing to the ability of the platforms to allow users to share information and their profiles, opinions, thoughts, etc. It gives a voice to people who previously didn’t have any.
The popularity of social networking sites (SNSs) puts their members at risk. SNSs are a popular target for attackers because of the vast amount of personal data that users post on them. By exploiting a social media site, attackers can gain sensitive personal data and carry out a variety of attacks, including spam, spyware, social bots, and identity theft. By studying the user’s data, attackers can locate additional important data, such as bank account information, and perform digital crimes, such as bank fraud.
Even though many Social media platforms restrict the amount of personal data shared by the user, attackers are learning to connect the dots. They can now use attacks on your social media accounts as the gateway to users’ sensitive information like bank accounts etc. Security dangers are rising because of the large volume of multimedia data available on some platforms like Facebook. A mischievous person can hide dangerous material within multimedia files and distribute it on a social networking site. An attacker can simply find the user’s crucial information, such as identity and location, by doing so.
Social media users have always struggled with protecting themselves from malicious individuals. Back in 2005, a virus called Sammy worm attacked one pioneer of social networking. Other giants like Facebook and Twitter also suffered attacks by Koobface worm and Mikeyy worm, respectively. The intention was to replace the user data with unusable or provoking data. Some attacks deleted the users’ profiles or replaced the profile with another false one.
Some researchers categorized social media security concerns into
- Privacy issues
- Viral marketing
- Networking structural-based attacks, and
- Malware attacks.
How Hackers Attack Social Media Networks?
There are a lot of different methods attackers employ illegally means to access the social media account of their victims. While social media platforms are constantly upgrading their security check protocols, hackers keep finding loopholes.
Social media threats emerge when people provide too much information about their personal life, whether the victim is a single individual or a company. As they’re easy targets, hackers like to attack people who pay little to no regard to their social media security.
Depending on the social media site, they could access individual posts in a variety of ways. They might send friend invites to their target’s friends and family or straight to their target on networks like Facebook. They are more likely to connect with their prey if they connect with their target’s “buddies”.
Businesses Are Not Safe too
Attackers who seek to target businesses choose social media platforms like LinkedIn. It’s a popular corporate networking site that’s ideal for gathering business email addresses for phishing attacks. The hazards of social media aren’t limited to gathering personal information.
Attackers can use the information they’ve got to mimic people and businesses, deceiving them into paying money, exposing personal information, or supplying bank account information. It poses a significant threat to a variety of business infrastructures and private individuals.
How Hackers Get into your Social Media Account
As the Social Network develops and becomes more complex, hackers are also altering and improving their methods of hacking. Here are some of the common methods hackers use to bypass your security.
Man in the Middle Attack
In this type of attack, the hacker intercepts communication between a user and the web. He serves as the middleman between the sender and the receiver. The Malicious hacker “eavesdrops” on the conversation between the sender and the receiver, and may alter the messages that both unsuspecting parties receive.
This allows an attacker to intercept data and information from both parties while also providing malicious links or other information to both genuine participants in a way that may not be detected until it is too late.
This form of attack is comparable to the game of telephone, in which one person’s remark passes from one person to the next until they have changed by the time they reach the last person. A man-in-the-middle attack occurs when a third party intervenes in communication without the knowledge of the two genuine parties to get confidential information or inflict other harm.
The most common type of hijacking is the Phishing method. This method is very effective in stealing people’s information by tricking them to submit sensitive information like passwords, usernames, bank account numbers, etc. How does phishing work? With this method, a hacker creates a phoney social network login page that appears realistic and distributes it to victims so they can log in to the phoney site.
When a victim inputs their credentials, the hacker’s system is redirected. This is the most effective strategy because many people cannot distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent login pages and are duped into providing their credentials. This technique necessitates perseverance and exceptional abilities to trick the target into logging into your duplicate phoney page.
When you visit websites, they sometimes ask you to “allow cookies”. Cookies serve useful and sometimes essential functions on the web. They are small blocks of data created by a web server during a browsing session. The cookie could be stored passwords and usernames, tracking cookies that store records of the user’s browser history, etc.
Cookies that were saved in your browser caused this attack. When a user logs into an online account, such as Facebook or Twitter, the server sends back a session cookie, which is a piece of data that identifies the user to the server and allows them to access their account. The server will allow the user to use the program because the user’s device has the session token.
A hacker gets the session token and uses it to gain access to the user’s account. By infecting the user’s device with malware that monitors and takes session data, the token is hijacked.
How to Prevent Social Media Hack?
You need to consider a lot of factors when protecting yourself from cyberattacks and social media compromise. As reported by the 2020 Trustwave Global Security Report, some countries suffer from more cybersecurity breaches than others. Therefore, it is paramount that you install protective measures proportionately. Of the methods used by hackers, Social engineering is by far the most common. This implies that being educated, and being cautious of Cyber security threats is the most effective strategy social media users can apply.
- The key to successfully preventing social media threats is to educate people. Businesses should make providing instructional seminars on cyber security a priority so that their staff are aware of the potential hazards in cyberspace. Individuals can read primers on the subject online with private individuals.
- Using ad blockers is another approach to protect yourself from social media risks. Malicious adverts will not appear on your screen if you use these blockers. If that’s not an option, try to avoid clicking on weird adverts when surfing the web. You can also change your passwords frequently to protect the privacy of your accounts.
- Filtering the friend requests you receive across all social media sites is another preventative method. Unfortunately, not everyone on social media is your friend. It’s wise to ignore a friend request if you’re unsure about the individual who sent it. Finally, stay away from social media sites when utilizing public Wi-Fi networks because they are more vulnerable to hackers.
Raising Social media security awareness
What are the primary concerns of social media users? Are their fears well-founded? The pervasiveness of social media in people’s life is usually the source of these concerns. 45% of the world’s population uses social networks. According to data compiled by Statista, this translates to over 3.48 billion people using some type of social media. These links can put consumers at risk in a variety of ways:
- In recent years, social media users’ concerns about their privacy have increased. Data breaches have shocked many users, forcing them to reconsider their social network interactions and the security of their personal information. The tragic story of Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm, is a case in point. The business used the personal information of over 50 million Facebook users to sway the 2016 presidential election in the United States.
- Breach of privacy threats. Hundreds of thousands of people regularly use social media or social networking. As a result, hackers have targeted them more than any other in recent years. Users must never post or distribute sensitive data on the internet because of privacy issues. Criminals who employ social engineering techniques to gain access to it can use this information.
- Identity theft. Fake accounts, social media account takeovers, identity clone assaults, and information or location leakage are all examples of these risks. For example, ZeroFOX discovered that every organization is targeted roughly 30 times per year on average for corporate social media account takeover attempts. However, publishing such sensitive information on social media may have negative consequences for consumers.
- Attackers imitate their victims and issue friend requests to infiltrate the target’s private circle to get information. Traditional network attacks require more sophisticated automated methods to detect, and despite the availability of a variety of verification services, there is yet no shown defense against identity clone attacks.
Social Media Security Best Practices
While the Social media platforms do their best to protect their customers, you too should put in place measures that would protect you from the threat.
Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-Factor Authentications 2FA is an additional layer of protection that verifies that anyone attempting to access an online account is who they claim to be. The user must first provide their username and password. They will then be requested to submit another piece of information before they can receive access. This additional information could be a pin, smartphone, fingerprint, etc.
With 2FA, it would prevent any attempt to login into your account by an unverified user when the unauthorized user is asked for the second means of verification. Always remember- if necessary- your 2FA pin.
Set up a Very Strong Password
Most online platforms require that you register for their servers with a password. This so prevents an allowed individual from accessing your private data. However, we are fond of using passwords that are easy to remember. Most often, people use their birthdays, names, and locations as their passwords. It is strongly advised that you do not use any of these to protect your accounts. Hackers have learned that most people use such categories for their passwords and have developed algorithms that can guess the passwords after a series of attempts.
Scrutinize your social Media Connections
The goal of Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc., is to connect with as many people as possible. Hackers use a variety of means to disguise themselves as a friend, so you mustn’t accept friend requests without knowing the individual. We recommend that you be choosy when accepting a friend’s invitation and think again before accepting. If you don’t know who the individual is, decline their request because it could be a fraudulent account.
Simply said, when you accept a request, your account information and photographs that were previously hidden from public view become visible to your new buddy. We believe that allowing a stranger to view the information or photographs on your social network account is not a good idea.
Explore The Privacy Settings Available to You
Privacy settings are in place for a purpose, and it is critical to keep privacy in mind when using social media. You can use privacy settings to gain more control over how your personal information is treated online. If you take your time to check your privacy settings, you can choose the people that you want to interact with on the platform. This way, you restrict the number of people who have access to your account.
A thief can’t steal what he doesn’t see, can he? For Facebook, you can visit the privacy section and change the settings to your preference. For example, you can change who gets to see:
- Your Location
- Date of birth
- Job description
Avoid Sharing Personal Information
You know undoubtedly that revealing personal information online, such as your home address or phone number, is risky. What you may not realize is that seemingly innocuous information, such as your first pet’s name, can be utilized to steal your data. You know how to keep passwords and other important information to yourself while posting on social media. However, what makes up “sensitive information” is not always clear.
A retro post about your childhood school, for example, maybe a heartfelt tribute. However, if your school’s name is used as a security question on any of your accounts, it may compromise your information.
Do Not Repeat the Same Passwords for Different Accounts
In securing your information from online threats, passwords are frequently your first line of protection, which is why you should establish one that is not only strong but also unique. Credential stuffing occurs when a user uses the same password for many accounts. When hackers utilize previously hijacked login credentials from one website and “push” them into other websites until they find matches, this is known as credential stuffing.
Consider the case where you use the same password for your online bank account and your Facebook account. If a cybercriminal gained access to your online Facebook account, they could figure out which bank you use and have the login credentials they need to access it.
Use A Password Manager
Keeping track of your passwords is a difficulty in setting secure and unique passwords for all of your online accounts. Therefore, using a password manager is a good idea. A password manager accomplishes precisely what it claims. It keeps track of your passwords for you so you don’t have to remember them all (as long as you remember the password for your password manager). If you’ve been using the same password for a while, you can enter each of your accounts into the password manager and change it to something tougher or unique.
Inspect Mailbox for suspicious activities
Scammers use email or SMS messages to get you to provide personal information. They may attempt to steal passwords to accounts like your bank account numbers. They could gain access to your email, bank account, or other accounts if they get such information. Every day, scammers attempt thousands of phishing attacks like this, and they’re usually successful.
Scammers change their tactics all the time, but several indications might help you spot a phishing email or text message. Phishing emails and SMS messages may appear to be from a company you’re familiar with or trust. They may appear to be from a bank, credit card business, social networking site, online payment website or app, or online retailer.
Use Anti-Malware Applications
You can never be completely protected on the internet. Hence, we recommend you employ several tactics to fend off security threats to your social media accounts, like Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Anti-Malware applications help you scan for malware threats implanted by hackers on the web. These applications offer real-time protection against cyber security threats that would most times be undetected by the user.
This is a simple and low-cost method of safeguarding your computer’s important data and the computer itself. Make sure the virus detection application is up to speed on the current dangers by updating it regularly. Finally, scan the computer regularly to ensure it is in good working order.
In today’s environment, social networks are extremely popular. Millions of people use various sorts of social networks because they allow people to interact with friends and family while also allowing them to share private information. However, concerns about protecting a user’s information’s privacy and security can arise, particularly when the user’s submitted content involves multimedia, such as images, videos, and audio.
We wanted to raise awareness about social media security in our blog article, which is something that should not be taken lightly. By educating yourself, you can take control of your social media area by following the social media security advice we presented.