What Are the Threats of Using Social Media?

What Are the Threats of Using Social Media

As our reliance on social media increases, criminals have found a new space to attack us.  

Social media has become a part of our everyday lives. As of September 2021, the largest social media platform Facebook has over 2.89 billion active users monthly. With people across the world relying heavily on social media platforms, it is expected that some of them would exploit these platforms for negative purposes as well. 

Crimes committed using computers are referred to as cybercrimes. Researchers call social media platforms a “Trojan horse” used by cybercriminals as a guise to pull off criminal activity. To protect your business from the dangers of cybercrime, let us take a look at the top three most common social media cybercrimes and how to defend yourself against them. 

Hacking accounts to misuse personal data

One of the most popular forms of social media cybercrimes is the trade and misuse of information from hacked social media accounts. According to the Bromium report 2019, over 1.3 billion social media users have had their data compromised, and 40-50% of personal data trading can be attributed to breaches on social media platforms. Once hackers make their way into a person’s social media account, they can use all the stolen personal information for malicious purposes, for instance, sabotaging their career. An employee’s compromised social media account can be used to slander an organization and, thus, can adversely affect its reputation.

The easiest way to identify if your account has been hacked is to check if there is any unusual activity on it. Facebook and Google even send notifications to users if an account has been signed in at unfamiliar locations. 

To strengthen your account security, you must regularly check the security settings of your accounts and set complex security questions which only you can answer. Another great way to protect yourself from being hacked is to use a password manager. Password managers create strong and unique passwords that can also lower the risks of someone guessing your password. 

Phishing on social media 

Social media has been increasingly used to carry out phishing attacks. Phishing refers to the practice of sending fraudulent messages to unsuspecting people to make them reveal sensitive information or to deploy ransomware on their devices. Around 70% of ransomware attacks originate from phishing links via emails or social media platforms. A phishing attack can disrupt business operations, make the company lose money and can even lead to the loss of intellectual property.

Friend requests from strangers or links asking you to update your account information can often be phishing attempts. To avoid such attacks, you must think twice before responding to a stranger who has approached you on social media. One quick and easy way to gauge the authenticity of the account is to check the number of its followers–a large organization’s social media handles would usually have a large following. 

Crypto scams and cryptojacking

With cryptocurrency becoming a buzzword today, cryptocurrency-related scams have flooded social media platforms. One of the most recent examples of that was the “Elon Musk Bitcoin scam”, where scammers impersonated Musk on Twitter to scam people out of US$2 million. 

Another common crypto scam is cryptojacking. Cryptojacking is the process of harnessing the processing power of another person’s computer for cryptocurrency mining. Attackers do this to save themselves from the heavy electricity bills as a result of crypto mining. With 18.78 million of the 21 million Bitcoin supply already mined, the energy requirement continues to go up. Computers that are cryptojacked will operate at a much slower speed. Hence, cryptojacking can adversely affect the productivity of an organization

Crypto scams work the same way as other phishing attacks. Thus, you need to follow the same steps to avoid them. On the other hand, cryptojacking attacks are done through infected advertisements and hidden pop-up windows. To avoid these attacks, you need to install trustworthy ad-blockers and cybersecurity software on your device. 

Cybercrime threats can come to you in many shapes and forms. As technology continues to develop further, we will continue to see its misuse for criminal activity. To protect yourself and your business from falling prey to cybercrimes, you must bear in mind the two key ideas–stay vigilant and don’t overshare.

Header image courtesy of Freepik


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