Social media is a major way that billions of people across the world connect with family and friends. It has also become a tool for cybercriminals, who can use information posted publicly online against you. In 2019, 27% of social media scams in the US took place on Facebook. If you’re not vigilant, you could become a victim of a cyber attack just from using social media.
How Cybercriminals Use Social Media Against You
Cybercriminals use a lot of tactics on social media to gain access to your personal information. Criminals can be looking for information that seems innocuous, so most people don’t think twice about providing it.
Personal information is used in 2 main ways:
- To get access to information commonly used in password security questions, to therefore access your accounts.
- To collect information to send personalized messages from your “friends” that you trust and click on.
If cybercriminals have information needed to get your passwords, they can access bank accounts or sites where you have stored your credit card information. If criminals send spoofed messages from friends, they can get you to send money or click on dangerous links.
Both of these can cause significant financial loss, and put your contacts at risk by allowing them to send spoofed messages from you as well.
Harmless Online Challenge, or Scam in Disguise?
Hundreds of thousands of people participate in social media challenges. These are often trending posts that contain information, photos, or quizzes, and challenge other users to do the same. This is a clever way for hackers to get others to work for them. They can create a phishing post and then sit back while users post and share and challenge others.
Examples of common challenges include sharing a picture and memory of your childhood best friend, high school, or the make and model of your first car. Another asks you to share a newspaper headline that was trending on the day you were born. Funny quizzes may ask you to combine things like your birthday month and first pet or street you grew up on together to create your “rockstar name”.
How Can You Safely Use Social Media?
There are several steps you can take to make sure your social media isn’t putting you at risk:
- Change your privacy settings – Set your social media accounts to private to control who can view your activity.
- Don’t give away personal information – Think twice before participating in a challenge or post that seems harmless, or responding to a message with someone asking for help or information. Ask yourself whether the information could ever be used against you.
- Use multi-factor authentication – This password protection method requires two steps to access your accounts, often a password and then an additional step such as a physical device or biometric verification. This prevents hackers from getting into your protected accounts.
If you are worried about protecting your personal information online, you can connect with an IT company in Broward for some assistance. Expert IT providers can evaluate your current online activity and ensure you have the privacy and protections you need. They can set up multi-factor authentication on your accounts and put additional security measures in place. Quality IT providers can also educate you on how to navigate social media safely.