Are you sharing more than you realise?
What’s your rock star name? Simply post the name of your first pet and the street you currently live on to find out! Or how about your Jedi name? That’s your mother’s maiden name spelt backwards and the city you were born in…
If you use social media, it’s likely that you’ve seen quizzes like the one above. They’re a fun, light-hearted way to engage with your online community which doesn’t cause any harm…or can it?
Those questions are usually very similar to (or exactly the same as) the ones banks or other organisations use as security questions to access your personal data or reset passwords. By taking part, you may be giving away private answers in a very public space. This is just one example of social media mining.
What’s social media mining?
In the simplest terms social media mining is when someone gathers data from your social media accounts. This can include public information such as your full name, date of birth and location as well as information gathered from comments, likes and clicks.
How is social media abused?
In 2020 the abuse of social media increased by nearly 200% and that number continues to rise. So it’s important that you’re aware of the different ways cybercriminals are abusing these platforms so you can protect yourself from threats. Some examples are:
You’ll often see URL links shortened on social media platforms as they save space and are more shareable. However, criminals will often use URL shorteners to hide malicious links. You should only ever click on links from a source you trust.
Criminals sometimes copy a celebrity’s social media profile to trick people into taking a specific action. When the real celebrity posts, the criminal may reply using the impersonated account telling you to click the link to win a giveaway.
Credential theft is when criminals illegally get access your passwords. To do this they may use malicious links to direct you to fake websites. The fake website will trick you into entering your username and password to access information. Cybercriminals are smart and these fake web pages may look very similar to your bank’s or other websites that you regularly use.
As we mentioned earlier, you may accidently share information on social media that can be used to reset your passwords. For example, you may have mentioned the name of you first pet in a post 10 years ago.
How can I stay safe on social media?
There are some steps you can take to keep yourself safer on social media:
- Change your privacy settings so posts are only visible to those who follow you
- Set up two factor authentication which can help keep your accounts secure even if your username and password is stolen
- Avoid quizzes and games that encourage you to share personal information
- Switch up your social media passwords
- Be selective when accepting friend requests
- Be cautious when clicking on links
- Remember to log off when you’re done