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HUB TechMinutes

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4 minutes reading time (702 words)

Hackers Prey on Social Media Users

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Social media has been an emerging technology in recent years, and has produced many threats. Hackers have learned that they can take advantage of these communication mediums to launch dangerous new attacks on unsuspecting users. With enough ingenuity on a hacker’s part, they can potentially steal the identity of a social media user. Here are some of the best ways that your organization can combat identity theft through social media.


First, it helps to understand why social media is such an attractive vector of attack for identity thieves. For one, the anonymity provided by the Internet has long been a staple reason why it’s been commonly used by hackers to steal sensitive information from organizations. This was (and still is) done through spam and scam emails, but nowadays, strategies have changed enough where individuals have to be more cognizant of their personally identifiable information because by using social media constructs like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like, they are much more exposed. Enterprise-level spam filters are readily available to all kinds of organizations, prompting hackers to step up their game and create new ways of stealing information.

Spear phishing tactics were the result of these efforts. Intending to bypass the likes of spam blockers and content filters through seemingly legitimate sources, phishing tactics come in a variety of forms, with the most successful of these coming from sources that hide the true intentions of the one making the attack. The Internet can mask the true identity of hackers so that they can seem to be someone else, either in an email scam, social media attack, or otherwise. This is known as spoofing and has been an infiltration tactic for decades.

In particular, social media can provide attackers with a lot of information without them working too hard. Think about the kind of information that you might have on your personal Facebook or Twitter feed. Do you have a phone number? What about an email address or physical address? Do you have any information about the musicians you listen to or the books that you enjoy? All of this information (and more) can be used to help a potential scammer steal your identity and use it for various ill offences - the gravest of which could be stealing your identity and using it to attack those you hold dear.

Imagine what could happen if someone were to steal the credentials to your social media pages and use them to impersonate you. They could fool all of your closest friends and family into giving up whatever information they are looking for. For example, they might be able to coax your parents or loved ones into parting with personally identifiable information such as your Social Security number or credit card number, which could be used to open new lines of credit or make fraudulent purchases. Regardless, the threat posed by identity theft through social media is considerable, and you must take precautions to ensure that you don’t fall for these traps in the future. Here are some ways that you can make sure this doesn’t happen.

• Be on the lookout for suspicious activity on your accounts: If you suspect for even a second that your accounts have been compromised, be sure to change your passwords so that they can’t be used to hurt those closest to you.

• Look out for dangerous messages sent to you: If you suddenly receive messages from those who you haven’t heard from in a long time, and their behaviour is suspicious, perhaps it’s best to ignore these messages or alert those who you think may be affected.

• Limit the information you share on social media accounts: Information can’t be stolen if you don’t choose to share it. Consider implementing more powerful privacy settings for your accounts.

Businesses are just as vulnerable to spear phishing attacks as individuals, if not more so. If you are like millions of others, social media has become an essential part of your life, and quite possibly, your business. To ensure that you are doing what you can to protect yourself and your organization from the threats that social media and other innovative communications technologies enable, consider reaching out to your IT professionals at HUB.

 

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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