Social networks are used by 45 percent of the world's population. According to Hootsuite data, that translates to almost a whopping 4 billion individuals using social media. Another study claims that today, over 350 million people suffer from the “Facebook addiction syndrome”.
Social networking is interesting and entertaining, and it is a terrific way to remain up-to-date, expand social presence, and earn money. However, benefits and drawbacks are two sides of the same coin known as "social media". Because of the increased use of social media, privacy has become more important than ever.
Understanding the Social Media Privacy Issue
When personal information comes into the hands of the wrong people, the implications may be disastrous. In terms of surveys, Google reports that 20% of social accounts will be compromised at some point.
To look at the last year, there have been several major incidents where hackers have scraped personal data from social media users. In April 2021, a hacker sold an entire database of around 500 million records containing personal data scraped from LinkedIn. Around 1.3 million user records were scraped from audio-only social media app called Clubhouse. Around the same time in 2021,533 million Facebook user credentials were gathered from a mix of old and fresh scrapes before being distributed on a hacker forum with a donation request.
Common Social Media Privacy Threats
Sharing information on social media is something that every person does on a regular basis. However, at the same time, criminals are skilled at duping social media users into revealing sensitive information, stealing personal information, and getting access to accounts that users believe private.
In general, social media sites, which gather and retain massive quantities of personal information with no regulatory control, are appealing targets for bad actors looking to use that data to commit fraud and crime. The following are some common examples of social media privacy risks.
Malware attacks: Malware distributors find social media sites to be a perfect delivery strategy. Malware can be used to extort money (ransomware), profit from forced advertising (adware) or steal personal information (spyware).
Phishing attacks: Phishing attempts frequently masquerade as social media sites. In 2019, a huge phishing attempt was made to attack Instagram users by impersonating a two-factor authentication mechanism and urging them to check in to a bogus Instagram page.
Botnet attacks: Bots and botnets are common on social media and are used to steal data, spread spam, and execute distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which aid hackers in gaining unauthorized access to people's devices and networks.
Social media mining: When someone opens a new social media account, they provide personal information such as their name, birthday, geographic location, personal interests, etc. Companies gather this data and the data on these users’ preferences and activities, such as when, where, and how users interact with these platforms. They share this data with third-party entities for various purposes, frequently without the user’s knowledge or consent.
Social media has become part of our lives to disseminate our personal information online, including our newest news, adventures, projects, opinions, ideas and so on. According to Charles Webster Leadbeater, "you are what you share". The truth is, anything that interests us or is even linked to us can be found straight online or on our social media profiles. But then, what about the cost of failing to share? In the internet world, this would simply indicate that we do not exist.
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