Social Media Platforms are Vulnerable to Hackers

Frankie Wallace


Did you know that security concerns are turning people away from social media platforms? They are aware that hackers are obtaining users’ personal data through the most commonly visited media sites. If you are on social media platforms in any capacity, you’re probably aware of this fact, and it may have even already happened to you.

Social Media Platform Hacking

Social media hacking has become so common that it’s been affecting politics on a national level. Remember the Russian cyberattacks in the last election that threw the American news media into a frenzy? The New York Times revealed that those Pentagon hacks came from Twitter:

Pentagon officials are increasingly worried that state-backed hackers are using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to break into Defense Department computer networks. Additionally, the human error that causes people to click on a link sent to them in an email is exponentially greater on social media platforms, the officials said, because people are more likely consider themselves among friends.

Why are these cases, whether on a political or personal scale, popping up so much? Social media platforms have become a staple in our society and are a key form of communication for most of us. If we do not do something soon, the consequences could be catastrophic.

The Consequences of Human Error

If you asked a millennial if they remember hearing about hacking as a child, they may say they remember being warned about it from their parents, school teachers, or maybe even ads on TV. While people are still wary of it, culture seems to have become more relaxed regarding threats to their personal information by way of hacking. As long as one has a firewall, what’s to worry about? Don’t be fooled: This laissez-faire attitude could get you in big trouble.

As shown through an experiment, it doesn’t take much for a well-built bot to find users’ personal information on a variety of social media platforms. Social Media Today summed the study up and the results as such:

The socialbot built an extended social network of one million people, successfully friending 3,055 individuals from a total of 8,570 invites sent. In other words, this resulted in a mind-boggling 35% acceptance rate. Once the socialbot made some friends, it in turn targeted those friends’ friends. As the bot’s network grew, so did its friend-acceptance rate. Additionally, the bot collected 250GB of personal data, including 35% of all the personally identifiable information found on friend pages, and 24% from extended friend-of-friend networks.

Recognizing our own naivety to is the first step to reducing our chances of being hacked. As the above examples indicate, for instance, you should not click on suspicious links, nor should you accept friend requests from people you don’t know. There are hackers working to move past our defenses. However, we have more responsibility than we often give ourselves credit for. Our own protection begins with us.

The Vast Amount of Entry Points

With the variety of social media platforms we commonly use, there are a variety of entry points for hackers to enter our systems through. We have already covered examples of hacking through Twitter and Facebook. But what about Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and other social networks?

It is not just the spread of platforms though; it is the geographical locations and number of devices we are using everywhere we go, all the time. With the intersection of the internet and mobile devices, data is more widely available than it was in the past, especially in marketing. Therefore, this has given hackers more outlets in which they can obtain sensitive information. Even using an unsecured network in a coffee shop could leave you open to cyber-threats.

This being said, it is crucial that we understand that there are many different ways hackers are able to invade our digital spaces. Around two thirds of adults are present on social media platforms. Therefore, if the public information shared on personal accounts is even used by insurance companies and potential employers, imagine what a hacker could do. The results are not pretty.

What You Can Do to Stay Safe

Obviously, internet users have used basic cybersecurity measures, including antivirus software and a firewall, for a very long time. However, it takes more than that in the age of social media. You need to set up security measures for each social media platform you use — that’s how malware is being spread and how information is being stolen.

With all of your social accounts, you should be enacting two-step verification. If you are unaware of two-step verification, it is when you have to answer a question or enter a code that has been sent to you via smartphone after already entering your password. Almost every mainline social media platform has a way for you to set this up nowadays. Despite this, people often still do not use two-step verification.

Additionally, take a second to think about how you might optimize your social media page for the public. For example, if you are going to a job interview, you may want to make your social profiles look as professional as they can. Additionally, completing your profiles, linking to your websites, and the like are all very important.

On the inverse of that, you will also want to optimize your pages for security. Do not let your e-mail addresses or phone numbers be accessible to the general public. These can be used to obtain your financial information. Additionally, they could be accessed by scammers who plan on reaching out to you to trick you into letting something sensitive slip.

Summary

Social media platforms have become a hotbed for hacking. However, now that we know that the threats exist and how they happen, we can start protecting ourselves. Clicking on suspicious links and adding people who we do not know is dangerous. However, is the information we often leave out in the open can be equally dangerous. Security starts with being aware and can only evolve with vigilance. Utilizing new tools like two-factor verification will make it harder for hackers to get into your accounts as well.


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