As a society, we are spending more time than ever on social media. In 2019, people spent over two hours a day on average on social media platforms.
With over half of the world’s population accessing social media daily, it comes as no surprise that these sites are a prime target for cyber attackers attempting to access your private information. While many social media trends may, at first glance, seem no more than harmless fun, they could be utilized by hackers to target you and your business. Social media challenges often ask you to expose personal information that hackers can use against you.
Social Media Challenges
Many “challenges” are created by hackers to trick you into exposing personal details that allow them to figure out your commonly used passwords and security questions. For instance, a challenge that asks you to shout out to the “teacher that inspired you most,” may expose your answer to the standard security question of who your favorite teacher was.
Hackers may be creative in their challenges too. A typical example that often trends on social media is to figure out “your celebrity/movie star name.” These challenges often ask you to combine details like the name of your first pet and the street you lived on as a child to create a humorous name that you post on social media.
Another example is the “then and now” picture, comparing your graduation picture to where you are now. This often might allow hackers to quickly learn the school you attended or even your current place of work just by glancing at the images. The problem is these are precisely the sort of details many of us might use to access accounts for online banking, email accounts, or work-place logins.
Scammers can make their way through these public posts on social media to try and obtain a password. Once they have found details that match a password, they can then break into your accounts and reset your passwords giving them full access to and control over your accounts.
Protecting Yourself and Your Businesses
While all this may sound scary, there are simple ways to protect yourself and your information.
Cody Rivers, the Chief Technology Officer of AIS—an IT company in Indianapolis specializing in providing IT support and security for businesses—said, “With the increasingly sophisticated methods of socially engineered attacks we’re seeing, it’s more important than ever for every business and individual to protect their information through use of strong password hygiene, multi-factor authentication, and simply keeping personal information off of social media.”
Most social media platforms now have settings that limit your posts and only make them available to friends or those you have granted access to.
Creating passwords that are harder to guess and using different passwords for each of your accounts also makes a hacker’s job much harder.
Multi-factor authentication is another powerful tool to combat hacking. This method asks the user to present two or more pieces of evidence to gain access (e.g. once you give a password, you then receive a code to your cellphone which you have to type in to access an account). Multi-factor authentication blocks hackers from accessing information, even if they have managed to guess your password.
Remember, the harder you make it for a hacker to access your accounts, the less likely they are to persist in attempting to infiltrate your online defenses.