Social media isn’t all fun and games. There are real concerns out there and you need to know what they are, and how to defend against them. This applies equally to those who use social media for business and personal reasons. Everyone can be hacked as everyone has something a hacker wants. It really can happen to anyone…
Social media security concerns
Phishing and baiting risks are everywhere
No, we’re not going to need a bigger boat. Wrong phishing. Instead, you’re the one who gets phished in to a bad decision by an enticing headline or call to action. You think that the link is good, so you follow it only to find that it is:
- Directing you to a website which asks for a login.
- Sending you to a completely unrelated website, which is likely full of malware.
- A message from a friend’s hacked account that looks legit.
You can also find ads on social media sites which are victims of click jacking. This is where a legit ad has a malicious link placed in it. You may also know this as advertising.
Protect yourself by:
- Never give out personal details to a website that you’ve been directed to. Do research first and check that it’s legit. WHOIS is a good resource.
- Those click bait headlines, like “You won’t believe what this girl does when alone!!”, are a complete waste of time even if they’re legit. Don’t click them. Period.
- Personally message your friends on a different platform if possible when their account looks like it’s acting oddly. They may not even know they’ve been hacked.
A little research, and asking a question or two, can save your social media security.
The Fake WAP on public WiFi
Part of the appeal of social media is how you can use it anywhere at any time. Take a pic at your local coffee shop, upload it to Instagram, and hashtag it #IWokeUpLikeThis. Good fun. But that public WiFi you just used at the coffee shop, did you assume it’s safe without protecting yourself? Don’t.
The fake WAP is one of the oldest, and most often used, hacks around. Why? Because it’s simple and it works! All a hacker has to do is turn their computer into a WiFi hotspot, give it a cute name like “Free Coffee Shop WiFi” and sit back and wait as they either read data sent over the connection as plain text, or prompt for login details.
Protect yourself by:
- Always asking someone who works at the store for the correct WiFi name, and for any passwords. Your first defense is know which one to connect to. It’s not foolproof as a hacker can still just create a WiFi network with the same name.
- Use a VPN to encrypt your information. A hacker can still get you to connect to the fake WAP, but they can not read any encrypted data sent over a VPN connection. Check out this IPVanish review if you’re not familiar with a reliable VPN provider.
- Waiting until you get home to do any banking or online shopping. It really isn’t worth the risk, and it can always wait until you’re on a network that you know and trust.
Again, asking questions and using the right tool will save you. We all know how enticing it is to use social media in public, and we know how much everyone loves something for ‘free.’ In the online world, rarely is anything ever truly free.
Most at fault is …you! Stop oversharing!
Social media is all about sharing, but how will you know if you’ve gone too far? Think of it like this:
- Sharing a Taylor Swift video to your friend’s wall is fine. That’s what social media was built for, and there’s no value for a hacker in knowing you like Taylor. Who doesn’t though?
- Sharing your social security number through a private message to your mom, well, that’s not such a good idea. It’s only private until it isn’t. If a hacker ever gets hold of your account you can kiss that data goodbye, and get ready for some identity theft.
Knowing what to share, and what not to share, is your responsibility. You can’t blame the bad security of Facebook if you decided to share a picture of a credit card over it. That’s not what Facebook is for!
Protect yourself by:
There are some things that no one will ever care about you sharing. Go nuts, share every Taylor Swift video there is, and send one to me on a boring Tuesday. But any data which could be in any way useful to a hacker should be completely forbidden. I’d even take it so far as not sharing your phone number. Hackers have connections with telemarketers too, it’s all data to them.
Make social media a safe space for yourself
As you’ve read, social media isn’t all fun and games. It’s also a big business opportunity for hackers. You have to make life difficult, or even impossible with a good VPN, for them. A few precautions, a simple tool, and better data sharing choices are what will protect you.