The Hidden Dangers of Social Media

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in SecurityFebruary 15, 2021
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dangers of social media 

Humans are social by nature, and our need to connect has become rampant with social media channels of all flavors at our fingertips, day and night. However, as you post these snippets of content (comments, posts, video, pictures, etc.), you may not be aware of the inherent dangers that come with a social media presence.

Typically, most people share way too much on social media. We lull ourselves into a false sense of security that our social media accounts are protected in a bubble because we can only see our friends and family connections. However, that is not necessarily true. A lot of social media content and profile information is shared among different services, especially if they are owned by the same organization (like Facebook) leaving them ripe for data breaches and exposure.

You don’t have to give up using social media, but you should be aware of these dangers that could potentially have serious ramifications.

Exposed Location Data

Whenever you take a picture with your mobile phone or on social media, metadata can be saved about the location, time, and date of the photograph. When included in an uploaded photo, this information could provide a hacker with enough information to track your whereabouts and find your exact location. That is a scary thought. Be sure to turn off location tracking and location metadata when posting any images to social media. 

Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering is a tactic used by cybercriminals to get your attention, earn your trust, and then steal from you or worse. Whenever someone connects with you on social media, be careful! Stranger danger is more important on social media than in real life. If you don’t know someone well, never give out any information to them especially personal details. Never trust that who you are speaking with is who they say they are. Many threat actors pretend to be someone else to gain your trust. Be cautious and watchful at all times to protect your identity and your personal information. 

Fraudulent Ads

We see great ads on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all the time for cool items we want to buy. However, remember not all of these ads are legitimate. Many of them look very real, but they are put out there by hackers and thieves wanting to lure you in to click a link and infect your computer or mobile phone with malware so they can spy on you, steal your bank information, or perpetrate some other type of fraud. 

Cyberbullying

Once you start connecting online, you may find that it is easier to become a target for cyberbullying. It happens more often than you might think and not just to teenagers. Many people see social media as a free-for-all platform to vent their rage and unhappiness on other people. Watch out for anything that feels “off,” and do not engage with people who are trying to abuse you.


cyberbullying

Misconfigured or Insecure Settings

Another danger is not keeping your account safe. Go through all your security and privacy settings to make sure they are set to the maximum level. You do not want anyone taking over your account or stealing profile information to use for identity theft or fraud. There are dozens of great how-to articles that show you exactly how to secure your accounts from the ground up. Always use a super-strong password and never reuse the same one on multiple accounts. That will help you avoid becoming a victim of credential stuffing.

Data Breaches

Facebook and other social media platforms have all been victims of data breaches, hacks, and exposure leaks. Therefore, it is essential to audit your own accounts and make sure you aren’t sharing more personal information in your profile than you should be. Always assume that eventually, the bad guys will get their hands on the details. How much are you willing to lose? If you strip your profile down to the bare minimum, it will help protect you. 

Many of these platforms want your email address and phone number. If caught in a data breach, your email address could become the ammunition to use against you in phishing campaigns, and scammers could use your phone number to wage fraud against you.

Reputation

Many stories have been circulated about people who shared too much on social media and either got fired or was flayed in the media. Sharing too much is always a danger. Before you post that angry comment or biased opinion, take a minute to let your emotions settle down. The past year of political unrest has taught us that to vent openly on social media could cost you your job, reputation, and financial ruin. On social media, less is more. Keep in mind anything you share may be seen by the entire world. Don’t think just because you share it with only friends; it won’t be exposed. 

Go ahead and enjoy social media for what it is, but keep in mind, the less you share with the world, the better off you will be.

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