Close to 3 billion. No, that’s not the population of a country. According to a recent estimate, that will be the total number of users globally on social media.
The popularity of this phenomenon called social media can aptly be summed up by just that statistic alone. Social media is everywhere – we keep in touch with our friends on Facebook, follow celebrities on Twitter, share photos on Instagram, scout jobs on LinkedIn, send snaps on Snapchat – you name it, there’s a social media application for it. It’s reached a stage where people don’t question it anymore; in the space of just a decade, people have accepted the omnipresence of social media everywhere without giving it a second thought.
And that, of course, makes it the perfect tool for cybercriminals who are waiting for the next possible chance to cause havoc. Individuals tend to drop their defenses on social media – whereas they might be more wary of clicking a strange link on an email received at work, they might think of nothing of clicking on it on a social media platform, especially if it has been posted by a friend. And that can have very bad consequences.
Here are some ways in which your social networking account can be used for a purpose which you may not have thought of:
Social media websites are a goldmine for criminals to mine data and commit identity theft. The main reason is that normal users don’t employ strict privacy settings and give away a lot of data about themselves. This data can include information from their birthday, their residence, their office location, their hobbies (used to guess passwords) and even more. This data is invaluable for a criminal and can be used to create fake profiles, impersonate you, get more financial details and a myriad of more things.
How many times have you seen a friend post crazy stuff on their profile only to see them delete everything later with an apology message saying they were hacked? It happens very often and yet many people still remain extremely confident that the same won’t happen to them. But as the number of hacked profiles indicates, getting hacked is very simple. You click on a link which you feel is innocuous and it leads you to a website which downloads some malware on your system and the damage is done.
The reason why social media is so addictive is because there’s an element of trust. Many users can blindly trust what they see and read on social media, making it a dream for those who want to spread fake or malicious propaganda. This fake news can be amplified with people sharing and passing it on without anyone even trying to find its source. And this fake news can often have real-life consequences.
Invasion of privacy
Social media can capture a lot of data on you if you’re not careful. Innocuous apps which pretend to only be asking you your favourite color might sneak into your privacy settings and capture all information about you and your friends. Data is the new currency and this data could be used to create profiles of you for advertisers.
How do you keep your social networking accounts safe and secure then? It’s simple by following a few tips:
- Be careful of how much information you give out online – Social media is a great place to express anything you want but keep a filter in hand also. Cyber criminals are also outside waiting for that information which they can use for wrong purposes.
- The golden rule: Nothing is ever deleted on social media – Sure, you can delete something but someone might take a screenshot of it and it could come back to haunt you. There’s permanence of what you post on the Internet and more so, on social media, so take a moment, breathe and then post.
- Everyone is not what they seem – Your new friend might be a wonderful conversationalist but remember they may not always be what they are. Impersonating someone else doesn’t take much and is very easy.
- Read, reflect and then share – “Viral” is the most popular word in a social media user’s lexicon but it may not have the best consequences. With the increase in fake news and manipulation of social media by negative forces, it’s important to be aware of what you’re consuming and sharing. Ensure you follow trusted sources and if you’re not sure of something, verify it first before sharing it on.
As an IT security partner for your business, Seqrite provides comprehensive security from advanced cyber threats. To know more