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Social Media: It’s Time to <3 Security Awareness

Part 4 in a weekly blog series, “How Attackers Target Trust,” running during October, National Cyber Security Awareness Month and European Cyber Security Month.

Over the past decade, mobile phones and social media have become essential to how we ingest news and communicate friends and families.

With the pervasive availability of information and opinions, we now need to do a better job vetting this information ourselves before reacting to it.

Our emotional reactions on social media can be used against us.

For example, according to Fortune Magazine, scammers have been using Hurricane Harvey-themed messages to trick people into opening phishing emails and links on social media sites, which can steal login information, infect machines with malware, or con victims out of money.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to abuse of our desire to help others. The FBI estimates that fraud in association with charity exceeds $1 billion per year.

Worse still are dubious links that our friends share with us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. It’s almost impossible to decipher the validity of such links or even that our friends are really the ones sharing them with us.

Shared links: consider the sources.

Creating ‘sock puppets’ (fake accounts) is now a common method of infiltrating a network of friends. Often these accounts impersonate people you might actually know, and without verifying in another way, you can’t really be sure a profile represents the person shown within it.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the proliferation of fake news and media sites. These types of sites are particularly dangerous as they purport to represent real news organizations when, in fact, they are run by malicious actors and others that do not have our best interest in mind.

We have to work hard to help users understand that instant gratification and fear of missing out on current events are causing us to develop bad information-consumption habits. Talk to your users and others about avoidance of links to unverified sites, shortened URL’s, and teach them to check their emotional responses to tragic situations and their desire to help.

Always consider your sources!

In closing out this series for National Security Awareness Month, take a moment to consider where we misplace our trust.

  1. Emotions
  2. Processes
  3. Technology
  4. Social Media

Consider developing new habits that allow you to place more trust in yourself. Realize that “stranger danger” applies to the internet. Develop online situational awareness and always consider the sources of information you consume.

In the end – Доверяй, но проверяй. “Trust but verify.”

Learn other ways PhishMe® can help to raise your security awareness.