Social media provides a world of opportunities for an organization or individual to promote and expand a brand. A powerful form of communication that uses the internet, social media can provide any organization with a strong global presence. Because these platforms have billions of users across the world, many organizations view social media as a vital tool in reaching a large number of potential prospects, customers, partners, employees, and advocates all at once.
Ultimately, social media platforms enable an organization’s representatives and its followers to have interactions that involve sharing information, exchanging feedback, and creating content.
Social media can increase brand awareness and engagement with the public. It allows for a generally less-expensive form of advertising in a non-traditional way. There are many types of social media, from blogs to photo-sharing sites to instant messaging or video-sharing portals and more.
That said, as with almost every form of new technology, social media does come with its own set of challenges too. One drawback for those using social media is that it can put users at risk because it can open pathways that are insecure or tunnel beneath traditional cybersecurity.
There are five social media-related cyber threats to be aware of and to protect against. They include the following:
Social engineering refers to a wide range of attacks that leverage human interaction and emotions to manipulate a target. Such an attack attempts to fool victims into giving away sensitive information or compromise corporate security.
A social engineering attack typically involves multiple steps. The attacker will research the potential victim, gather information about them, and then use this newly acquired data to bypass security protocols. Then the attacker works on gaining the target’s trust before finally manipulating them into divulging sensitive information or violating security policies.
Obviously, Thanks to its casual nature, social media provides a social engineer with an avenue to naturally engage with the potential victim or organization to push them for information that can then be used to help launch an attack.
In a phishing attack, usually via an email or an online message, the cyber criminal baits the potential victim(s) by trying to entice them into clicking on a malicious link or opening a malicious attachment. If the attacker uses social media to establish a rapport or relationship with their target, it will be easier to build the trust necessary to get them to click on malicious links or enter sensitive private information into an online form.
Cyber criminals also apply pressure on their potential victim(s) by creating a sense of urgency or appealing to their curiosity. “Act now before it’s too late…” is the epitome of the kind of encouragement an attacker uses on their target to get them to either click on a malicious link or provide private information via a form.
The malicious links promoted in social media lead to malware. Malware is the portmanteau of malicious software. There are many different types of malware, such as viruses, trojans, spyware, and ransomware. Cyber criminals use malware to access devices and networks to steal data and take control of systems, create botnets, cryptojack, or damage systems.
Another risk created by social media is when an individual or group tries to impersonate a well-respected company or brand to trick victims (employees or individuals) into providing confidential and valuable information that can be used by social engineers to hack systems and networks. In addition to harming the victims who fall for such impersonation tactics, brand impersonation can also damage the reputation of the organization being impersonated.
When a person takes information and images from another to create a fake identity and then uses this false identity to victimize an individual on a social media platform, it is known as catfishing. The catfisher usually uses a fake identity to trick targeted individuals into associating with them or doing business online with the goal of stealing from the victim or humiliating them, or both.
The best practices for addressing social media threats include these seven strategies:
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