Social media has become a necessary evil for most of the world - you can’t live with it, you can’t live without the narcissistic high it gives you. However, social media has increasingly become the bane of the infosec community. This is mainly because of the lax cybersecurity in social media networks.
The recent mega-breach that Facebook suffered - the Cambridge Analytica scandal has pulled the the blinds from consumers’ eyes about social media security. The very nature of social media networks encourages users to ignore potential social media threats and share personal information repeatedly.
Value of social media data
The information shared and/or posted by users is leveraged by social media networks to provide information to advertisers, who then tailor their ads to users’ preferences and deliver it via the social media network’s platform. During this process, users’ data changes hands several times and is handled with lax security.
In essence, every time you post, like or share a post, your preferences as well as your data is logged. This data is not only valuable to advertisers and corporations but, also to cybercriminals. In fact, social media is also a thriving ground for various kinds of cyberthreats plant themselves and grow fruits.
Social media security
Despite numerous concerns raised by data privacy activists and lawmakers about the various security loopholes in social media networks, not much improvements have been made. Cybersecurity in social media is not tailored to protect users’ privacy and data. Instead, social media platforms prioritize user experience and convenience over security. As a result, users are vulnerable to various kinds of attacks.
Several cyberespionage groups have taken advantage of lax cybersecurity in social media networks to spy on and steal from targets, in some cases playing the long con to gain access to the networks of a multinational corporation or a government agency.
Social media threats
For cybercriminals, social media is an ideal place to launch scam campaigns, infect users with malware and more. One of the most common social media threats are scam campaigns. In some cases, scammers pose as legitimate brands while other times, cybercriminals launch scams posing as charities immediately after a natural disaster.
After the Nepal earthquake and the triple hurricanes - Irma, Maria and Jose, security researchers discovered scores of scams posing as charities, designed to trick users into “donating” money.
Yet another popular social media threat is honeypots - cybercriminals create fake profiles (usually of women) to lure victims into befriending them and divulging personal information. This information would then be used by cybercriminals to threaten victims into paying a ransom.
In order to remain safe from such social media threats, it is essential that users become more aware of the current cybersecurity threat landscape and be more cautious about what information they share online. Tech firms must also take a more proactive and rigorous stance in improving cybersecurity of social media networks.