Social Media Security Threats

Photo via Eastlaketimes

Most users of social media are unaware of the potential security dangers that exist beneath the surface.  This lack of knowledge intensifies the social media security risk and threats faced by individuals and businesses alike. So what are those risks and who is susceptible? Here are just a few:

Social and Branding Risks:
If you are a business then your brand is everything. You spend a lot of time, money and energy building your brand. Having employees carelessly share information, whether on Twitter, Facebook, or some other social media platform can do destroy goodwill in seconds, which took you years to build up. We are sometimes all too familiar with social media and can forget that what you post, goes out to the world. So whether it’s trashing the competition or sharing a controversial political opinion, 140 characters and one mouse click can get in you and your brand in a world of trouble.

Link Cloaking:
Most social media platforms take advantage of URL shortners. These shortners such as: tinyrul, bitly and many others are designed to conserve character space. Because Twitter only allows you 140 characters to share your message, you definitely don’t want to use all of the character real estate on some long URL. That’s why these URL shortners were created. They are not evil in and of themselves, but they can be used for deceptive and malicious purposes. You don’t really know where this tiny link is going to take you. It may take you to some site that is not appropriate for work (embarrassing) or it could take you to a site that extracts information from your computer or installs malware on your desktop. These shortners were designed as a legitimate micro blogging tool, but since they cloak or hide the link destination, you click at your own risk.

Profile Jacking:
So did your Mother really want you to visit that link that gives you a free laptop? Spammers often hack into Facebook profiles and make recommendations posing as your friends and family members (even your Mother). They may even tag you in some photo that has nothing to do with you. Remember, to keep your password secret and change it from time to time. We all know that you use your pet’s name as your password. So, “Rover1000” get a little more creative. Also, if it looks suspicious then it probably is. Don’t throw caution to the wind even when your dear Aunt Alice recommends a can’t miss link for a free iPad.

Twitter Deception:
Just about every day I get a direct message from one of my Twitter followers that “Someone is posting horrible rumors about you.” Now don’t get me wrong I care about my reputation as much as the next person, but these ominous warnings of my being trashed in cyberspace are just bait for me to click some malicious link. Many times you can be tipped off because the sentence structure is a little off. This is likely because the author may be struggling a bit with his or her English. So the next time you get an urgent direct message that “someone post horrible photos of you” or “this made me laugh so hard.” Be skeptical and cautious, because like those URL shortners, you never know where those links are going to take you.

Social media platforms should be safe places where friends, family, and business associates alike should be able to exchange ideas and media without the looming threat of being hacked. Unfortunately you can’t let your guard down when perusing your Facebook page or Twitter feed. You need to be careful and use good judgment in what you post and what you click on.