Sharing personal information, responding to unsolicited password reset emails, indiscriminately clicking any link and not checking URLs are all mistakes that can lead to your social media accounts being hacked
As of January 2022, more than half of the world uses social media. In other words, we are talking about 4.62 billion people for whom social media is already part of their daily lives and often takes up more of their time than they would like. However, although these platforms can be fun and are a great way of sharing experiences with friends, they also present a potentially dangerous cyber security risk.
So, what dangers do we need to look out for and what are the most common mistakes we make? Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, highlights the top four risk factors to bear in mind in order to stay safe when using social media:
- Sharing personal information: this is a very common and dangerous mistake that happens every day on social networks. Cyber criminals are, first and foremost, looking to steal your personal information. Armed with this data they can then launch multiple phishing campaigns or even steal your cash. If we add to this, the fact that most people will use the same login details for different social media platforms, stealing credentials from one, gives hackers potential access to all of your social media accounts. So, it’s vital that you don’t share personal data and that you use different passwords to minimize the damage if you were to become the victim of an attack.
- Watch out for unsolicited password reset emails: there are so many social platforms around today that it is very easy to think that at some point there may be an incident with one of them and this is where hackers can take advantage. If you get an email asking you to change your password, even if you have not requested it, your first impulse is to click on the link and reset. This is dangerous, as it can give the cybercriminal access to your entire account. To avoid this, you should go directly to the social media platform’s page (don’t click on the link in the email) and renew your password from the same page (and then do the same for other accounts where you have the same password).
- Clicking on any link: Cybercriminals often use links to redirect users to malicious sites. These links can come in the form of an innocent looking email or SMS. If you receive such a link, the best way to protect yourself is to go to the site in question, via your usual browser, and check for any messages there, rather than clicking on a link in an unsolicited email or text message.
- Not checking URLs: Another trick that attackers use to steal your data is to change a URL to make it look like the genuine article. Using this technique, hackers can get a user to visit a website they believe to be trustworthy, such as their Facebook page where they are then asked to change their password, to redirect them to a cloned website so that they can steal as much information as they like. We have seen this recently with LinkedIn dominating Check Point’s Brand Phishing Report for the first time, accounting for more than half (52%) of all phishing attempts in the first quarter of this year. To avoid falling for these scams , it is important to check the URLs that you access, making sure that the website has an SSL security certificate. If it does have a security certificate you will see the letter “s” in the address bar. So, it should read: https://. Thanks to this technology, any confidential information sent between two systems is protected and this prevents cybercriminals from being able to access the data being transferred, including information that could be considered personal.
“It is clear that social networks play an important part in our daily lives, but we need to be on our guard. Social networks are one of the main targets of cybercriminals and knowing their techniques is the only way to be able to defend oneself properly. Today, on Social Networking Day, it is essential for us to alert users and warn them of the existing risks so that they remain safe from any type of attack through these platforms,” says Ian Porteous, Regional Director, Security Engineering, UK&I at Check Point Software.