How to Protect Yourself on Social Media
Cyber attacks can get started using social media many ways including spear phishing emails, to malicious ransomware, to blatant WiFi sniffing on a public internet connection. It is difficult for even global corporations to proactively defend against a hacker bent of launching a cyber attack. However, we should not make it easy for hackers to get at tour personal data and banking information. Many times, hackers are out to get money. Login credentials to online bank accounts, employment data, and credit card information, can all result I loss of income due to a hacker transferring money away from its rightful owner.
Social media can be used to begin a number of cyber attacks including phishing emails and social engineering attacks. People think that the information they share on social media is private when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Posting sensitive data, like a birth date, gives a hacker a solid advantage in hacking into your bank account. If a hacker has your first and last name, hometown, and birth date, they already know quite a bit about you. That information can be used to find out even more. Don’t believe me, try googling yourself using your name or cellphone number and see what you come up with!
Don’t Giveaway the Answers to Password Reset Questions
What do your hometown, the name of your high school, the street you grew up on, and your pet’s name? They are common password reset questions. Social engineering attacks begin by acquiring a bit of personal information from a victim, like a pet’s name, and then using that to gain access to more sensitive data. For example, a hacker may not be able to easily acquire your bank account information but the hacker may find your email address on LinkedIn and use password reset questions to guess at the password. After gaining access to your email box, a hacker might reset your password and use it to acquire banking credentials. Say safe online and be sure your password recovery question answers are not on social media in the form of tagged photos and the about me section of your profile.
The Internet is Forever
If it is online, anyone can see it, even if you THINK it is private. It’s not. Do kid yourself into believing assuming that is possible for a post, photo, or snap to remain private. They aren’t Ever. No social media post is safe from being screenshotting or scanned by facial recognition apps. Your momentarily humorous post may get in the way of your college application or job interview. Nothing online is private or temporary. If you don’t want it to be seen by someone other than the intended recipient, or if you even suspect that it may damage your career, then don’t post it.
Be Wary of Panhandling Acquaintances
If a friend posts a message on Facebook asking for money, this may be part of a social engineering attack or just an outright scam. Maybe your friends do publicly beg for money on social media, but most likely not. Be wary of any form of communication that sounds out of the ordinary. Also, beware of any social media post, email, or direct message asking for money or banking information.
An easy cyber stack can start with a hacker sending ten phishing emails. Let’s say seven of those targeted respond to the email by click on a link, resetting a password, or logging into whatever fake website the hacker setup for $15. The hacker gets a little more information about you using your Facebook profile. A few password reset question later, and the hack gains access to your email box. If there is a monthly statement from your bank in that email box. Now the hacker knows who you use for banking and can get to work on hacking that login information to. The hacker already knows the email you use for the bank, your name, birth date and a few familiar answers like your hometown and pet’s name.
Don’t give hackers all the answers on social media. Keep your account restricted to friends and keep the personal data off-line at all times!
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She conducts workshops focused on web technologies and enjoys public speaking along with her connected rescue mutt.