In today’s digital world, social media platforms have become a choice playing field for cybercriminels. These supposedly friendly platforms now set the scene for a variety of cyberattacks from phishing and identity theft to disinformation and online harassment. Hackers easily take advantage of members’ trust using sophisticated social engineering techniques and create fictitious profiles to carry out their malicious activities. During cybersecurity awareness month, we are exploring the behaviour of scammers on social media by shedding light on their tactics and providing advice on how to protect yourself against the increasingly widespread growth of these digital threats.
Cybercriminals have endless imagination when it comes to vicious attacks and, unfortunately, social media platforms are too easily manipulated by these bad actors. One of their strategies consists of using fake websites to steal private or confidential information such as user names and passwords. Another aims to harvest what appear to be unimportant personal details which are shared on social media platforms but are used by scammers to launch phishing schemes. Detecting these cyberattack attempts on social media requires a type of vigilance and understanding of current tactics being used by cybercriminals. Here are some of the signs and indications to watch for to protect yourself.
- Misleading or very urgent messages
Messages inviting you to click on links, download files or reveal personal information could prove to be malicious. Errors in grammar can also be a sign of phishing scammers. Check that the URL is correctly spelled.
- Links to unknown or suspicious websites
If someone shares a link to an unknown webpage, verify the URL before clicking on it. Phishing sites look very much like legitimate sites.
- Friend requests from suspect followers
Friend requests from unknown followers or empty profiles should set off alarm bells. Do not answer invitation links unless you already know the person or business.
- Unsolicited private messages
Be wary of unsolicited private messages that contain links or requests for personal information.
- Fake contests or doubtful offers
Be suspicious of contests or proposals that are too good to be true especially if you are asked to provide personal information. For example, offers of free products or money are rarely a good sign.
- Requests for money or financial information
If anyone asks for money or financial information on a social media platform, be extremely sceptical. Banks and government institutions never ask for your personal information through online platforms, by email or text message.
- Unusual activity on your account
Monitor your social media accounts to detect any abnormal activity such as posts you haven’t written, changes to your security parameters or links to unfamiliar sites. Check your login activity to identify inconsistencies.
In any event, limit the information available on your social media profiles and do not save your login information on shared computers. If you suspect a cyberattack attempt or you notice odd behaviour on your accounts, do not respond hastily. Ignore suspicious messages, block the compromised account if necessary and report the activity to the social media platform. Prevention and preparedness are essential for protecting your online security.