Social media marketing has meant a lot more people are spending a lot more time, sharing a whole lot more information than they once did. Social media websites, like any area of the Internet, should be used with care. Virus-like activities and malware are all finding their way into social media. Don’t think you are safe just because you are inside a social media website. This article looks at some of the ways your information is at risk, even when you are using big name social media tools like Facebook.
- Fake and bogus applications. There are always new applications on the market. Can you be sure they always do what they say they do? Applications access the information you have on social media. There have been a number of very popular applications on Facebook claiming to show you who has been viewing your profile. None of these applications actually did this, they sent users bogus information, and they collected information from the users. By allowing this application to access your account, all you did was open your personal information up for attack.
- Malware links. With so many users on sites like Facebook and Twitter, it is impossible for those sites to police the links that are posted by other users. It is important to consider what posts and links you will click on when using social media. Those links often contain malware that is immediately downloaded onto your computer, or they could be directing you to websites that are independently malicious. Posting links mean the criminals don’t even need to know your email address, the normal way they would send you a link.
- Web-based viruses. We all know what a virus is. It is actually a program or application that runs on our computer to cause damage. Most of them will replicate and spread to other computers via our email. Well, now they do that through our activities on social media sites. When you are using an application online, that application or even that page may have a virus running inside it. The virus is like an application you cannot see. It can penetrate your computer and spread through posting itself to other friends you have in your community. A new virus may take control over a social site for some time before the owners can get it under control. Beware of postings from others that do not look or sound like they normally do.
- Fake profiles. Social engineering is not malware or a virus, it is people pretending to be someone they are not. Some criminals will go to great lengths to create profiles that appeal and attract other users. Once they are ‘friends’ on social sites, they can gather information to help them steal the identity of the normal user. This is why we should only be friends with people we really know, and we should seriously consider the amount of information we are putting on these sites.
Social networking is here to stay. Internet marketing has changed forever, and it is important to consider those who are in the business of distributing malware do so with the mentality of a criminal marketer. They are using the same tools to get your information. They will often appear the same. Using top quality software to monitor activity on your computer is only half the way to protecting your information online. You should never share every detail about your life online. Keeping your identity safe is up to you. Your own actions are what will keep you safe.