To Assist or not Assist Social Media Scammers – Has that Become a Question?

To Assist or not Assist Social Media Scammers – Has that Become a Question?

When it started in 2007, my relationship with Facebook was a bit naive and overwhelming, as all good relationships are at the beginning. I remember how accepting friend requests from people I didn’t know personally and posting a status every day (and let me thank FB timeline for reminding me of that o_O) was something I considered normal. Now, eight years later, I have a strict rule in place regarding FB friends – only people I know can be on that list. Even though I became aware of potential scammers on social media long time ago, my list of rules and precaution measures needs to expand – and so needs yours.

Scammers are moving to social media more and more.

Why? Because more and more people share more and more personal information over there and those “more and more” are everything scammers/hackers dream about. Also, there is one important side effect related to social media that works in their favor. On FB, for example, you might have a couple of hundreds or thousands of FRIENDS, a word that suggests you are socially related to those people, and therefore, more likely to believe an endorsement for a scam product because it is shared by somebody who is your FRIEND.

More and more threats require victim’s “assistance”.

The most common social media threats in 2014 were:

manual sharing – more than 70% of threats required users to spread the scams themselves by presenting them with intriguing videos, fake offers or messages that they share with their friends;

fake offering – where you might be invited to join a fake event/group and motivated by a free gift card, but joining requires sharing credentials with the attacker or sending a text to a premium rate number.

One example of manual sharing that you might remember: when Robin Williams died, scammers took advantage and shared what was supposed to be his goodbye video, requiring users to share it with their friends in order to see it. There was no video of course, instead, users were instructed to fill out surveys, download software, or were redirected to a fake news website.

More and more security, please!

There are ways to protect yourself and your friends from online scammers. We will show you how!

–        Manage your online presence by checking privacy settings of your social media accounts on regular basis – manage who can see your posts and photos and check regularly how you look to “strangers” on FB (find the option “View as” on your Timeline). Set up two-step verifications for your social media accounts – FB’s version of this is “Login Approval”. Do not use the same password for your profiles on FB, Twitter, Instagram etc. If you do so, then the scammer will profit more with one single hack. Make jokes about strong passwords, but keep it a joke and find that unicorn!

–        Be wise about your friends and about content you post – keep your content appropriate for employees, colleagues or business partners you have, or may one day have, as your friends. You may differentiate among different “types” of FB friends by using different group settings. Also, watch out for the content you share, sometimes you can accidentally share malicious links to your friends.

–        Be very careful when you see the following in your news feed: offers for free smart phones, airline tickets or gift cards; unbelievable news about celebrities; unbelievable world news. Also, be very careful on Instagram, where scammers create fake accounts claiming to be lottery winners and ask for your personal data in order to win some money.

–        Be very careful with shortened links, because scammers love to guide you through shortened links to malicious websites. Sucuri SiteCheck Scanner or URLVoid can help.

–        If you have accounts on several social networks, you might think integration is a good option. It is practical for sure, but be careful because you can be anonymous on one site, but exposed when using another.

Author:

Ivana Drakic

Ivana is a political scientist by vocation and a dancer by heart. She loves to be around geeky people. This mixture explains her interests in technologies, data, writing, research.

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