Social Media Security
In this eye-opening journey, venture into the very heart of social media platforms to discover how they really work. Get tips and practical advice on social networking security.
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Social Media Adoption Brings New Risks
Every industry faces a unique set of risks on social, many of which have put organizations in the press or at the center of controversy. The rise of social media has introduced a new security paradigm, one that puts users—employees, customers and partners—squarely in the attacker’s crosshairs. Social media has become the new cyber battleground, presenting one of the largest, most dynamic risks to organizational security in decades.
Scale of social media
The public nature of social media makes it widely accessible to everyday users and attackers alike. The sheer volume of content makes it difficult for security teams to overcome risks manually.
Inherent trust in social media
Social media was designed for connecting and sharing. Once an attacker has entered one of their target’s trusted social circles, it is much easier to entice the target to click a malicious link or file.
Social Media Security has quickly become one of the most important issues facing business and individuals. Unlike a few years ago, social networking has asserted itself as one of the primary means for communication. Large corporations and individual users alike prefer the channel for various reasons. The most common ones are the ability to communicate with millions of users at a go, connecting to people from any part of the world, and facilitating the sharing of all types of media. Such include pictures, videos, text messages, and voice and video calls.
Despite its popularity, social media poses security risks due to the rising number of hackers and sophistication of attacks. Security threats are rife, and as such, social media users need to be aware of the best practices required to secure their social media accounts.
Social Media Security Tips for individual users
1. Monitor your inbox
For many years, hackers have used email messages to conduct phishing attacks. These are attacks where a cyber adversary uses different techniques to trick victims into installing malware or divulging confidential information. The methods can include appealing to the victim’s interests. Social media has, however, made it easier for hackers to carry out phishing campaigns. At a single glance at the user’s profile and account activities, they can create convincing messages to trick victims into clicking a malicious link or downloading an attachment with malware. Therefore, monitor the messages, links, or attachments sent to the inbox. Phishing attacks are usually sent by unknown people and will mostly request for personal information.
2. Utilize password protection
When creating any social media account, the process includes a requirement to create a unique username and password. Password protection is, in fact, one of the easiest ways of keeping a social media account secure. All social media platforms require users to provide a password to gain access. Creating a unique password is nevertheless different from maintaining best password security practices. Recommended practices for enhancing password security consist of creating strong passwords. Strong passwords can prevent a brute-force attack attempt. Also, periodically changing a password can minimize the possibility of its compromise. Furthermore, it is always essential to log out of a social media account once accessed through another person’s device. Most browsers or applications retain passwords where anyone can sign in.
3. Use multi-factor authentication
Many social media platforms support two-factor or multi-factor authentication schemes. They provide additional security to password protection. Enabling multi-factor authentication requires a user to provide a correct password and a second item to verify authenticity. For example, two-factor authentication may send a code to the provided phone number or email address when signing in. Failing to give the sent code, even with a correct password, denies access. Since only the legitimate account owners can access the authentication items, a malicious user can’t gain access. However, not all social media platforms enable multi-factor authentication in their default security settings. The account owner must hence allow the option in the privacy and security settings. Applying multi-factor authentication is an effective way of enhancing social media security and preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing the account.
4. Set up hard to guess security answers
When creating a social media account like Facebook, users must provide the phone number or email address for resetting passwords, in case they forget. Malicious individuals may have access to the email accounts or phone numbers and use them to rest the passwords. As such, they can sign in as the real owner and use the account to post harmful content or target followers with phishing messages. Using security answers can enhance social media security since resetting passwords might require one to provide answers to the security questions. Providing the wrong answer prevents a password reset, and this strengthens social media security. However, just like multi-factor authentication, the security questions to be used during password reset must be enabled in the security and privacy settings.
5. Manage the privacy settings
As previously stated, social media users have a huge responsibility in ensuring their personal security and that of their accounts. Due to this, they should proactively manage their privacy settings to determine who can see their posts or timeline activities. Maintaining privacy settings protects a user from social media phishers. To create a successful phishing message, an attacker must identify the interests of the target. Enabling privacy settings such as followers or friends can view the timeline history can prevent phishing attacks, thus enhancing social media security.
In that light, it is also advisable to be careful with the messages a user posts on social media. The primary intent of hackers is to access personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, home addresses, and user passwords. Posting such information on a public platform like Facebook only simplifies a cyber adversary’s work. The more a user posts personal information on social media, the easier it is for a hacker to steal the user’s identity.
6. Secure mobile devices and computer
Sometimes, all a cyber actor requires to compromise social media security is a vulnerable computer. Cybercriminals exploit computer or mobile device vulnerabilities to install malware programs. Through the malware, a hacker can remotely monitor all activities, including the social media usage patterns of a particular victim. This can provide a cybercriminal with the necessary information for accessing the victim’s social media accounts.
There are multiple measures one can implement to ensure computer and mobile devices security. Using antivirus solutions can detect malware programs present on the computer. Also, acquiring updates whenever they become available, especially for social media applications, installs the latest security updates. As a result, it becomes difficult for a cybercriminal to exploit security vulnerabilities.
7. Who are your followers and friends on social media?
Verifying requests sent by new friends or followers can go a long way in enhancing social media security. The main aim of social media is to connect people from different parts of the world. As a result, hackers utilize such opportunities to create fake social media profiles and sending requests to hundreds of users as it increases the possibility of finding an easy target. It is prudent to verify the social media profile to determine its authenticity. It is relatively easy since a legitimate profile should contain a history of the owner’s activities. Such include sharing photos and comments on their posts from other friends. A profile with hard to verify information can be a cybercriminal using a fake account. Delete such requests and take the extra step of blocking or reporting them for further investigations.