Social Media Safety Tips
Avoiding Scams in the Oversharing Age
Social networking sites are increasingly coming under fire. The problem with sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. is that they create an environment of trust among users, who generally assume that links and downloadable content at the sites are always safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. Hackers have already moved on to a new kind of attack, targeting social media accounts, where people are more likely to be trusting. That urgent Facebook alert your aunt keeps sharing to your page may or may not be legitimate. Let’s face it: chances are it’s not legitimated at all.
Hackers Hide Cyberattacks in Social Media Posts
It took only one attempt for Russian hackers to make their way into the computer of a Pentagon official. But the attack didn’t come through an email or a file buried within a seemingly innocuous document. A link, attached to a Twitter post put out by a robot account, promised a family-friendly vacation package for the summer. It was the kind of thing anyone might click on, according to the official hit by the attack, who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The human error that causes people to click on a link sent to them in an email is exponentially greater on social media sites, because people are more likely to consider themselves among friends. Once one person is compromised, attacks can move quickly through that person’s friend network, leading to a nightmare situation in which entire company could be targeted.
That’s a term for headlines, contests, and grabby news nuggets specifically created to compel users to click on a link. Most of us have clicked on at least a few, only to find ourselves being urged to click one more time (and again, and again …) to get to the juicy part. Clickbait is created by creeps and fraudsters who get paid every time somebody clicks.
Common sense is king
You may recently have seen a Facebook post – very official-looking, complete with a barcode – claiming Dunkin’ Donuts is giving out a free dozen to anybody with a coupon. Or maybe you’ve seen something similar about “free” sunglasses. Pause a moment and reflect: Can Dunkin’ Donuts really afford to give a dozen donuts to 50 million people or so? Of course, not – it’s a scam.
Fear rules people’s lives
It’s amazing how many internet click-scams are built around fear. Your computer has been infected, or a killer’s on the loose, or a common household cleaner will poison you. Always keep in mind that fraudsters love to prey on fearfulness.
Anybody can be hacked
Social media sites succeed because they create trust – you believe that post or message is coming from your sibling (or colleague, or neighbor …) because, well, their picture is right there! But today, hackers routinely hijack Facebook pages in order to scam trusting victims. If a request from a “friend” doesn’t feel right, investigate.
Six Tips to Help Avoid Today’s Sophisticated Social Media Scams
Thieves gravitate to easy opportunities and low risk. These days, that means they’re all over social media, where potential victims abound and the odds of being caught are slim.
You wouldn’t fall for a clumsy email claiming to be from a Nigerian prince … but if you’re not on your toes, you could be victimized by a subtler Facebook come-on. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:
1. Never post personal information, including your Social Security number (not even the last four digits), birthday, place of birth, home address, phone numbers, or personal account information.
2. Avoid posting a front-facing picture of your full face. A con artist can copy the image and use it to create a photo ID that can be used to steal your identity.
3. Set the privacy options for each of your social media accounts to restrict your information so it can only be viewed by people you select. Check your privacy settings regularly.
4. Avoid login to your social media accounts via a public wireless network, where scammers may lurk.
5. If you get a Friend request from somebody you thought you were already friends with, tread carefully. Odds are good that the friend’s account has been compromised, and scammers are re-sending friend requests in hopes of claiming more victims.
6. Keep in mind that con artists like to rush victims into acting before they think things through. If you receive a breathless social media plea from a friend who urgently needs money (to get home from a foreign country, perhaps), double-check—this is a notorious ripoff.
Cyber security is a team sport involving every employee in the organization. It’s not just about having the right technology and security policies in place – it’s about the awareness of how to act securely and responsibly whether at your desk or on the road.
References: © National Security Institute, Inc.