Phishing and Malware – Increasing Concerns Among Social Media Users

What do you think of social media threats?

Social networking has revamped the way we interact with friends and associates. Presence of social networks, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, FourSquare, and Google+, play a significant role in our lives, risking more security threats than ever.

What do you think of social media threats? Most of you might point out the fake accounts and fake followers using purchased services, trolls, or maybe the “fake news” flying about everywhere.

What’s often overlooked by 3.48 billion social media active users, though, is how it can harm organizations and their customers via different threats such as brand impersonation, phishing, malware, fake corporate accounts, or ID theft scams that are all increasingly running via social media platforms.

According to Tom Kelly, president, and CEO of  ID Experts, commented,

“What we’ve learned is that the majority of Americans today are concerned about social media privacy. Their level of concern does not change based on age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or political leaning. It’s amazing how so many ubiquitous forums can be the hubs of thriving social lives but also the source of so much unease”.

Social Media security threats can be of many fronts, some of them are;

Some Examples of Malware Threats on Social Media

  • Posting links on Twitter or Facebook to direct people to click links with downloadable malware.
  • Impersonating corporate CEOs for securing data from customers believing that they’re speaking with someone in authority.
  • Communicate false information to manipulate a company’s stock price.
  • Build a fake brand-related profile to sell it to the organization that wants control over legitimate content.
  • Using unauthorized accounts to post fake promotions or discounts to set customers up for phishing scams.

Want to know the threshold of such social media security threats; the following research done by IDExperts will tell you which of the threat is more threatening among 2200 Americans adults?

Starting with some Social Media usage.

  • 63% of adults in the US use Facebook, 42% visit YouTube, and 29% use Instagram daily.
  • 68% of adults are worried about their security and privacy on Facebook, 40% on Instagram and 39% YouTube.
  • Phishing and Malware are the biggest social media risks.
  • 1 in 5 (Generation Z) adults have stopped using Facebook due to security concerns.
  • There are Majority of American adults, regardless of age, gender or other demographics, are active social media freaks; despite considerable concern over risks, most Americans (2 in 3 Adults) still using these networks.

Then, what risk is the highest?

  • Malware and phishing – 82% of adults expressed concern for these threats.
  • 8 in 10 adults (80%) are concerned for account takeover.
  • 78% are concerned with account impersonation and bots to steal data or send spam.
  • Social media phishing attacks surged 500% in 2016.

It means Malware and Phishing should be dealt first, leveraging other threats moderately.

Let me remind you of a Twitter phishing attack that happened in March 2017, targeted 10,000 employees, using expertly tailored messages; one of the victims were targeted through his spouse’s Twitter account.  

How could we forget the most frequently recirculated Facebook hoax, that convinced many of us that actor Rowan Atkinson (“Mr. Bean”) either met with a deadly accident or committed suicide, but he was alive and well.

Such incidents happen on and off; it’s you and me to decide – whether to believe in such musketeers or bluff them back.

To deal with the malicious actors, users should know their malpractices; get to know their tricks to stop them right away, but before that, get to know why cybercriminals love social media account?

Why Social Media?

  • Victims are always ready to click
  • Everyone is on social media – 385 million only in N. America
  • Between 30 and 60% clicked the bait
  • Social media is loaded with personal data

How Phishing and Malware spread on Social Media?

Phishing and malware threats on social networks are often similar because they rely on external links.

Phishing links lead the victim to a malicious website; either impersonate a brand to trick users into entering login information, or to infect the user with malware – sometimes both. Alternatively, these threats encourage users to download the payload via direct messages.

How the Links Spread?

Keeping exceptions aside – most of these attacks use external links leading to malicious websites.

An actor with malicious intent use several ways including;

  • Shared content – Once an account is hijacked, attackers often use it to spread the attack to the victim’s contacts, lending the malicious message an air of legitimacy and makes all the contacts more likely to click.
  • Comments – Cyber attackers inject themselves into confident conversations, often by commenting on well-known threads or using trending hashtags, while always having a malicious link.
  • Direct Messages – Attackers simply send a malicious link or file attachment with a direct message to anyone who friended or followed them on respective networks.

So, what to do? How to stop them from reaching your social media account? Here’s the way out!

How to stay a step ahead of malware and phishing attackers?

Talking about online privacy and security; you will find an abundance of tips, how-to’s, guides, walkthroughs, tricks, and whatnot, to anonymize your presence in the cyber world.

But Social Media needs special yet quicker treatment, just follow these simple set of protocols, and your social media – which is known to be a zero-trust game – will be less vulnerable.  

  • Don’t click any link you come across
  • Check the legitimacy of every discount or promotion you’re exposed to
  • Avoid sharing personal information – at least limit the threshold
  • Don’t give away personal details instantly – use other sources to dig the right information.
  • Not every video needs your impression.
  • Links in comments are often malicious, don’t click them right away.
  • Inform your contacts as soon as your profile seems phished or exposed to malicious content.

Do you know the actual cost of Social Media security scams? If not, check this out!

How much Social Media security scams cost?

When a social media scam runs successfully, an enormous price awaits, both by the company being abused and the customers of the organization.

  • Financial Loss – Criminals run social media scams to access corporate accounts and defraud naive consumers of thousands of dollars; enacting credit card frauds are also possible, even before their ploys are detected and stopped.
  • Brand Exploitation – When a company is exposed to a social media security threat, the negative press runs that easily drive many prospects away, shrinking their customer base.
  • Customer Mistrust – When customers discover a seemingly legitimate brand social account they’ve been interacting with is fake,  they may not be willing to proceed with future engagement with that brand whatsoever.

Malware is one of the deadliest techniques for hackers nowadays. Identifying a malware is hard but not impossible. I hope this article will help you get a better understanding of malware threats on social media. Stay safe and anonymous online!

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