Love sharing your thoughts, opinions, photos and videos with the rest of the world? Ever wondered if it’s safe to put too much personal stuff out there?
According to a recent survey conducted by InSites Consulting, out of the 2 billion internet users in the world, over 1 billion people use social networks and over 600 million use social networks at least daily. Also, the top 2 social networks with the greatest awareness and membership are Facebook and Twitter. And coming up fast from behind, Google+.
Most probably, you’re one of those people and use at least one of the social networks trending at the moment. But alongside you are hackers and other cybercriminals just seeking a window of opportunity to take advantage of your personal data.
As your security is our main concern, it goes without saying that aside from handing you the tools to counter these threats, we consider it necessary to keep you informed at all times about everything that might affect your internet security and privacy.
When social gets creepy
This year has been prolific in social media changes but also in ever-evolving internet threats “shared” and diffused over the World Wide Web. As Google plussed up the social media by launching its Google+ social network, Facebook decided to change its face, just to keep pace with the competition. All these changes raise new privacy questions.
First off, there’s a fine line between social and creepy – and the new changes brought to Facebook come close to crossing it. According to internet security specialists, Facebook’s Timeline makes it easier for cybercriminals to collect information on people and launch malicious attacks. Telling the “story of your life”, this user profile summarizes important past events in a one-page display. This way, your life history is more easily accessible to your friends and to strangers – if your privacy settings allow them to see your profile. Also, its location-sharing feature could enable stalkers to gather information on your whereabouts and use it to harass you.
By posting information related to your friends, you could put them at risk too. And this is when getting “too” social on Facebook can get messy. By not keeping your private details private, you virtually hand stalkers a magnifying lens to watch you and your friends closely.
Another issue you are faced with when socializing on Facebook is the “cookie tracking”. Unfortunately, it’s not as luring and yummy as it sounds! Cookies are special texts used for authentication and tracking the user’s online activity. After logging out of Facebook these cookies that contain information about your account are kept in the browser you used, and Facebook can track your visits to any page with a Facebook button or widget – hence, there’s a privacy issue going on! Also, if, say, you happen to use a public terminal for “Facebooking” and log out, you’re leaving behind “fingerprints” – in the form of cookies – of having been logged in. So, these cookies are a helpful tool for identity thieves to track down your Facebook activity and use it to their benefit.
Like tweeting? Beware of twacking!
Attachments containing malware or weak passwords enable cybercriminals to mess around with your social media account and private data. A closer look at the number of hacked Twitter accounts will show you that all celebrities with huge amounts of followers – from Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber to Barack Obama – have had their Twitter accounts hacked. And thousands of malicious messages have been sent off from them. This is another risk of getting too social: you gain great online visibility and, thus, you’re more exposed to Twitter hacking, i.e. twacking!
Always be picky with the invites you get – it’s for your own good!
With the launch of Google+, e-mails were sent in the form of invitations to join the new social network, which instead directed those who accepted the invites, by clicking a link, to malicious phishing websites. This is what happened with LinkedIn a year ago, but it seems most people weren’t aware of this already-used scamming trick. That’s why it’s always better to prevent such e-mail scams. And Bullguard Spamfilter can be more than helpful with that.
Cybercriminals dig corporate socializing – how does that affect you?
Social media has become a new promoting tool for companies and more than 50% of social network users are connected to corporate brands – maybe you are too. Observing this trend, cybercriminals have started to test the waters of companies’ social media accounts, to “phish” some details on their customers. This was the case with Bank of Melbourne: its Twitter account was used in early September to spread phishing links as direct messages to the account followers.
Other cases involve hackers just having fun (talk about dark humour!) and using the Twitter accounts of news broadcasters such as FOX, USA Today or NBC, to spread fake rumours and create panic. More often than not, a cyber-gang self-entitled “The Script Kiddies” is responsible for such hacks.
If you’re a LinkedIn user, then there’s another reason for you to be wary of cybercriminals’ preference for corporate socializing. Being more business-oriented, LinkedIn accounts can be targeted by hackers who want to get private information on the companies users work with. Imagine the dreadful situations resulting from hackers getting away with their scams!
Clearly, social media accounts are precious tools for hackers, as they can use them to send spam, spread malware and steal identities. While you can get effective internet protection against all these threats with BullGuard Internet Security, you should also consider revising the settings of your social media accounts and being more careful with your online behaviour! Networking seems easy enough when you don’t beat yourself too much with privacy settings or reading subscription terms. But it’s also very dangerous!