The explosive popularity of social media is undeniable. Look around you; just about anyone with noses buried in their phones would be engrossed in social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, among others.
While social media brings to the table many benefits enriching the lives of many, they do pose a significantly high risk for security threats.
Social Media Security
Social media has become so interwoven into the lives of many that it would be unthinkable to separate them from social media.
The pandemic has caused many to rely on social media; it is their primary means to stay connected with the rest of the world. As such, you share more about yourself with others.
You have to be cautious when you’re baring your soul to others; some of these are strangers. You may see the posted images and ‘know’ who you interact with but do you really ‘know’ them? How do you verify the authenticity of the posted images? You also can’t read their body language to help you gauge their intentions.
The same applies to organizations across all industries. Companies use social media as an effective platform to market themselves. Cybercriminals hack into companies’ social media accounts and steal data from their customers.
Social media is a cyber battleground where security threats are dynamic and at large. Hence, it explains the crucial need for social media security where the best practices must be in place to help identify such threats and combat them promptly with the appropriate measures. Remember, it never hurts to always stay safe on the internet.
Social Media Threats and How to Solve Them
People use social media for many reasons; while it is all fun and fancy, you cannot ignore the real dangers lurking behind it. Understanding such dangers is the first step to helping you deal with them better. Don’t panic. You don’t have to stop using social media altogether. There are ways to circumvent such threats, and we are here to help you:
1. Identity Theft and Hacked Profile
Social media has become the favorite playground for cyber attackers (there is so much to steal).
After all, the number of social media users is expected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025.
Identity theft is one of the most significant security threats in social media, which has led to a significant number of frauds.
When you log in to your social media site and notice some suspicious posts or realize that your password has changed without your knowledge, your social media profile has been hacked.
Your social media account contains your personal information. As such, cybercriminals hack into your account to steal your data. They want to get hold of your personal information so that they can impersonate you to engage in unwholesome and illegal activities.
What Can You Do?
Use a strong password. Make sure you use a combination of alphanumeric characters, special characters, and symbols to make it tough on the thief. Bear in mind that the more complicated and unusual your password is, the harder it will be to crack. Never use easy-to-guess passwords like your birthday, your name, your child’s name, and the list goes on.
Don’t reveal any personal information in your posts that can help the thief guess the answers to your security questions. Every account should have a different password to avoid when an account is compromised and may impact others. As such, consider using a reliable password manager tool to help you with strong password generation and also help you manage them.
Utilizing two-factor authentication (2FA) adds another security layer to your social media login method. You will be required to provide additional information, such as a One-Time Password (OTP) sent to your mobile device. This OTP is then used along with your username and password to authenticate you.
Once your account is compromised, warn all your friends so that they will not simply click on any suspicious posts. If they do, they can be victims of hidden threats. Please flag any questionable posts as scams to the social media site and delete them from your page.
2. Dangers of Social Sharing (Privacy)
Once you share information about yourself on social media, you are exposed; your data can fall into the wrong hands. The more you share, the risks are higher because you have created a chain of networks where your data can inadvertently leak.
Certain social media sites allow you to share your current whereabouts with your photographs. When you do so, cybercriminals can easily keep tabs on your location as your detailed location can show up on the web, leading the thieves right to your doorsteps.
What Can You Do?
Don’t simply share for the sake of sharing. Be prudent in what you share. You never know how what you share can be used against you. For example, don’t reveal your travel plans details and
wait until you return home to post your vacation pictures. You’d want to avoid the thieves turning up at your empty house.
Also, look into the privacy settings of your social media accounts. Update them to control how much and what information can be viewed by whom. Never leave your privacy settings to the default settings. It is best to change your privacy settings to higher control levels where you choose the people you want to share information with and who can view your status updates.
Also, take control of the ‘tag’ function on social media, especially when you value your privacy and don’t want others to share your location and activities. Turn off your location tracking; you wouldn’t want people to track you. Additionally, make your profile ‘invisible’ to stop search engines from linking to your account.
3. Overconfident Mindset
Many of us tend to think that security is a hassle and there is nothing worth hacking in the first place. Never fall into this sense of false security; you’re only duping yourself. You never know who is sneaking outside your door. You don’t know what’s hidden in the minds of these criminals.
Cybercriminals often leverage your social media information to tailor their attacks. And, with the advancement of technology today, we are more connected than before. As such, nobody (including you) is safe; a security hole somewhere in this vast web of connections can easily lead back to you. So, never take security for granted. If you do, you risk yourself and others.
What Can You Do?
Change your mindset and be mindful of your digital surroundings. Pay extra attention to what you do online. The less personally identifiable information you share, the safer it is for you. Use relevant security tools to help you stay safe online.
Also, you can look into using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a tool that comes in handy when online. A VPN assures your privacy by giving you true anonymity and protects your information via an encrypted tunnel.
4. Phishing, Malware, Botnet Threats
Social media is the favorite playground for phishing, spamming, and malware attempts. Phishing typically involves social media accounts that look similar to your company. They then pose as representing your company and end up stealing confidential information from your customers; this causes your company to lose a lot in revenue and reputation.
In 2019, a phishing attack targeted Instagram users by posing as a two-factor authentication login system, directing users to a false Instagram login page instead. The purpose is to scam you into giving them your private information.
Malware, aka malicious software, is also found aplenty on social media. As the name suggests, such software has malicious motives and is designed to steal data from your devices.
Also, social media bots function as automated accounts that follow people based on a pre-configured term mentioned. A botnet consists of many bots. Bots and botnets on social media spam and steal information, also creating distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that supplement cybercriminals’ efforts to hack into devices and networks.
What Can You Do?
To combat such attacks, you require capable security tools to help you 24/7. Look into anti-malware and anti-phishing software to help guard your security so you can use your social media profiles more confidently with peace of mind.
Additionally, it is also good practice not to trust anything you see on social media; this applies to your friends as you don’t know if their account is compromised or not. Verify any posts and links that come in, especially dubious ones. Also, check if the letters in any links are suspiciously replaced.
5. Idle Social Media Accounts
Don’t think that your unattended social media accounts are safe; they’re not as they are the favorite targets of hackers. Upon taking over your account, the cybercriminals can send fraudulent information and do anything on your behalf; this can be detrimental even to businesses. In short, the hacker is going around, posing as you.
What Can You Do?
You have to keep track of your social media accounts and close those idle ones.
Just as cybersecurity threats are bad for all businesses, social media threats can do much harm to you and your company. Once you’re on social media, you cannot afford to be complacent. We’re not saying that you must not use social media at all. We’re saying that you should approach using them with extra precautions and safety measures in place; this applies to businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Please do go through the list above. Knowing the threats is half the battle won. The rest is up to you to take the correct steps to protect yourself and others.
Beh is the digital marketer at WebRevenue, provides content marketing and digital marketing plans for companies. When she’s not working, she’s out exploring the great outdoors with her family and friends.
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