Social media has become an integral part of our lives. Spending time on social media can be very entertaining and filled with fun, and that is how most of us spend our days now. From commenting and liking pictures on Instagram and uploading photos of what we eat to scrolling though twitter pages and keeping a track of what other people are doing in their lives, social media has become indispensable to us. Although these activities may appear to be innocuous, a great threat of cybersecurity lurks behind it.
Social media is targeted by cybercriminals to gather information on businesses and their employees, projects, and systems and also are capable of delivering viruses and malware to the system. Online security researcher Troy Hunt has reported earlier this year that a collection of 773 million unique email IDs, and 21 million unique passwords, is now being shared on the dark web. The collection has been sourced from a range of providers, and while the comparative password listing correlates with only a fraction of the e-mails listed, 21 million is still a lot of passwords. Again, maybe it's time to review and update our details. There were also reports that popular WordPress plugin 'Social Network Tabs' has also been compromised, leaving many Twitter accounts potentially exposed to hackers.
Interestingly, Twitter has recently admitted that its users who provide email addresses or phone numbers for better security like two-factor authentication (2FA) on the platform were served with targeted ads. Twitter admitted that the breach of user data can unintentionally be caused by Tailored Audiences and Partner Audiences advertising
system, used for advertising purposes. According to Gemalto, 945 data breaches accounted for this number from January to the end of June, including the Facebook Cambridge Analytica breach which saw 87 million Facebook users’ data taken in 2014 to created targeted with political messages on the social network in the run-up to the presidential elections.
Just a few years ago, businesses seeking to prevent data leaks could utilize data loss prevention systems and filter at the firewall (physical or logical) all data leaving the organization; many compliance systems sported similar functionality. Today, however, employees using personal electronic devices discuss all sorts of work-related topics on social media — both during and outside of work hours and locations. As a result, data can leak directly — for example, by people sharing internal email addresses, information about technologies in use at work, or details about upcoming products — but the danger extends to other forms of leaks as well: people sharing non-business information such as vacation plans, their personal cellphone numbers, etc., put themselves and their employers at risk. In fact, social engineering tactics that exploit shared information on social media have become common mechanisms for criminals to breach organizations — a single post can ultimately yield a massive hack attack. Furthermore, the proliferation of social media usage has also caused people to become accustomed to sharing much more about their personal and professional lives than ever before; younger folks who have used social media during the entirety of their adult lives often have a totally different concept of privacy than members of earlier generations. Of course, any cultural shift that conditions people to freely share information with outsiders exacerbates the risk of data leaks. Therefore users should follow certain guidelines to prevent themselves from being a victim of a cyber attack. According to research, 43 percent of all cyber-attacks are aimed at small businesses. The owners of such businesses should take extra precautions when posting any information on social media. Users should avoid sharing of date of birth, names, and pictures of family members and school which they have attended on such platforms. Social media websites are also one of the biggest gateways for malware. While most of the malware hides inside emails and download links, they can infect a system through social media via shortened URLs, or can even be hidden inside social media ads. Social media and dating apps are extremely convenient ways to become prey to cybercriminals as in such dating apps the partner can fake his or her identity. Careless usage of social media can also result in the home invasion. A single post about your vacation provides information to the stranger about the time when you will be not there at your home. All of this should not discourage one from using social media, because they can be an immensely powerful tool when used correctly. But one should think about his/her online activities and take responsibility for their own cybersecurity, as well as that of their business.