We live in an era where we are more active on social media than in real life. We love sharing our personal information, achievements, happy and sad moments, and likes and dislikes on social media platforms – and there are plenty of them.
The digital age has many benefits; it has eased life and made humans more dependent on digital platforms. This increasing dependence has its pros but several cons associated with it.
Human history is riddled with crime. Crime also evolved as civilizations evolved, from identity theft via con acts to rigging and looting money. Crime has also evolved with the advent of the internet and internet-based platforms.
According to a study, 155.8 million individuals were affected by data breaches and cyber-attacks in 2020 alone. So, before you post a cute picture with your pup on social media, you give away important information to hackers.
The hacking community is extremely cunning, and they can easily make a profile of the target by using the available information on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Every like on Facebook, every retweet, and every heart on Instagram reveals intricate details about you.
Rachel Tobac is the CEO of SocialProof Security, a security vulnerability assessment agency. She said, “About 60% of the information I need to craft a good spear phish is found on Instagram alone; I can usually find everything I need within the first 30 minutes or so.”
This is quite an alarming statement; social media engineering and phishing attacks can easily cause a lot of trouble to the victim.
Here’s what kind of information is publicly available to Hackers
When you sign up for any social media website or application, you must provide various information about yourself. This information starts with an email address or phone number to personal details and bank account details.
- Email address
- Phone number
- Country and cities
- Places visited and stayed
- Places you worked at
- Your acquittances
- Current employers and Job title
- Your interests and hobbies
- Your styles and buying habits
- Credit card numbers and other banking details
Hackers can use this information to hurt you. If a hacker gets your credit card details and knows your buying habits, they can use it to make transactions there, knowing you won’t notice. If hackers can get your social security number, they can use them to apply for credit cards and use those cards to buy stuff in your name or use your details in illegal activities. This is simply the beginning of data usage.
Tips to save your digital integrity and save yourself from social engineering
The following tips will help make your online experiences a bit more secure. But always be vigilant and save yourself by keeping your public information to a minimum.
1. Think before you post
The charm of social media websites is that they tend to get people excited about what they post online. But the more you post publicly, the more you risk becoming a victim of identity theft. The old-fashioned proverb “think before you speak” has evolved into “think before you post.”
As a rule of thumb, don’t post your intimate details online, like details of family members, your travel plans, personal details, and confidential work details.
2. Never share your personal and work email freely
Hackers can target you for phishing attacks by sending you phishing emails and connecting with you using your online information. They can attack you personally or target your organization’s network. The more you keep your work and personal details undisclosed, the safer you are.
3. Profile picture
Using a profile picture is a mandatory feature of a lot of networking platforms; it might be necessary to use these platforms for you for various reasons. If you can not avoid using these sites, try to use a profile picture that does not reveal a lot of detail. Use zoomed-out, simple and minimalistic pictures where necessary.
4. Only use trusted platforms
In the modern world, data is the most critical asset. Social media sites attract people by engaging them in fun online and tricking them into sharing their details. In reality, many companies sell user data to a third party for advertisement, leaving their users vulnerable. The data is traded in multiple hands, and consumers’ personal information is exposed. Facebook has been found guilty of selling user data to third parties.
Choose a platform that has a good track record of guarding user data. Avoid platforms with bad reputations.
5. Share only what is necessary
Sharing everything online is foolish, even if you consider yourself ordinary. Is it necessary to share your phone number? Is it obligatory to share your address? If not, then don’t put yourself at risk. According to a study, one out of six people uses pet names in their password, and most of us won’t even think before posting a cute picture of their pet and mentioning their name in the caption. Scary, right?
6. Don’t accept every friend/ connection/ follow request
Vet your friend’s request before accepting the request from the person. Ask yourself if you know that person. Do you have a mutual friend or connection? If not, then be very careful; you might be at the end of a malicious attack.
7. Avoid linking your accounts
Linking accounts seem very convenient, but once linked, accounts can be accessed with a single click. Suppose your main account has been compromised; your other accounts are automatically hacked. So, avoiding linking can help you save yourself in case of a bad hacking attack on other platforms.
We hope you will remember these tips the next time you log in to your social media accounts and think before hitting the post.