Cyber security, the process of protecting systems, network and data in cyberspace, is becoming increasingly important. This is particularly the case nowadays with the rapid developments in technology.

As technology advances, social media platforms have gained their popularity, with the majority of the population using them these days. These social platforms allow people to freely express their feelings and engage with the world via the web.

However, whilst social media users are so busy building online relationships and seeing what is going on in the world, they forget about the cyber security issues which arise on these social media sites.

It has made communication quite easy, and news spread so fast thanks to the social media sites. However, while everyone is so keen to meet new people, form relations to feeling a sense of belonging, there is little time to worry about their security.

With that in mind, here we will discuss the cyber security risks on social media, and the ways that users are particularly vulnerable.

 

Cyber Security Risks On Social Media

 

Targeted Spam

A lot of networks give their users the ability to gain automated access with scripts. These scripts can crawl the whole network for email addresses which can, in turn, be used for the purpose of spamming. Not only can these scripts extract email addresses of targets, but also their real names. In this way, they will be able to gain a deeper perspective about the individual concerning things, like the users hobbies and their special interests.

This leaves the door open for very personalized spam email to be generated. For example, if your Facebook profile indicates that you love dogs, spammers can send you offers for cheap dog food. Spammers may even use the names of users friends in order to get the person they are targeting to open the email.

 

Stolen Identity

Any social media platform will require a username and a password for login purposes. Unfortunately, this makes users vulnerable to phishing attacks–a fraudulent practice which is performed in order to get your personal information. These attacks come in several different forms. These individuals may offer something free or ask you to sign up for a contest. Users are usually led to fake pages, and as a result the thieves steal their credentials.

Some scammers claim to be a part of an official service. For instance, in the past, some have claimed to offer services which allow Twitter users to find out who was viewing their tweets. However, they were asked to provide their account information in order to see the results.

 

Malware

Not only can malware be spread through emails and download links, but it can also be passed around through social media platforms as well. In fact, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are often used in order to spread viruses. These cyber security threats can be found in shortened URLs. These types of links make it very difficult for users to figure out whether it is pointing to a website that is legitimate, or to one that is malicious.

In some cases, hackers will insert malicious code into a social media platform. As a result, this means that any visitor is at risk and susceptible to attack. This code may even be placed into advertisements. They create rogue third-party apps, which will often lure users away from the platform and ultimately compromise their computer or gather all of their personal information.

 

Information Leaks

An information leak, also referred to as doxing, is very common when it comes to social media platforms.

And this is probably one of the most vicious forms of cyber security risks to date. When doxing, the attackers leak the private details about a person online, including their full name, address, phone numbers, as well as any details about their private communications, pictures and much more. These types of attacks are usually meant to make the target feel vulnerable.

In the most extreme cases, attackers have used information which they have gained from social media platforms in order to stalk and harass the victim. This has been the case with gamers who have had their homes raided by SWAT teams.

 

Home Invasion

If you have ever used your social media account to detail your travel plans, you may be inadvertently giving burglars a heads up to when your home will be vacant.

While you may be excited about the next cruise you’re planning, it’s important to remember that not only are you sharing with your friends, but with the world at large. Burglars will often use social media accounts to remain updated about their victims. This includes where you live, how long you will be away, as well as what time you’re returning home.

Even if the user’s block their profile from everyone, friends will still have the ability to tag them in their posts and photos — exposing them to potential security risks. This is very much the case if the user does not properly manage how others are allowed to tag them, through their privacy settings.

However, home invasions are not always done when users are away on long trips. In some cases, the users may be absent from their home for a couple of hours and come home to find that it has been broken into. This can happen when the person uses “checking in” features on social media accounts, such as Facebook and Instagram, which let other users know what local stores or restaurants their visiting.

 

The trick to remaining safe when using a social media site is restricting the amount of personal information you let the world know about you. For instance, don’t let the world know every time you have just popped out to grab a bite to eat. As well as this, remember to use strong passwords and regularly change them.

In order to completely survive on the internet, be alert of spammy links and only click on things you feel are safe and legitimate. Be safe.

 


Editor’s Note: This blog article was written by an outside contributor – a guest blogger – for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. However, the opinions and recommendations expressed in this guest blog are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Security Awareness Company, LLC. If you are interested in writing something for us, please do not hesitate to contact us: blog@thesecurityawarenesscompany.com.

Simon Parker

This article was written by Simon Parker. Simon Parker has over 70 years of shared experience with Minerva Security, dealing with commercial business security and fire alarm systems.

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