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Social Media Cybersecurity

Developments in cybersecurity and social media cybersecurity include a body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect our data and privacy. However, attempts to access our business and personal have become an inevitable reality.

Social media platforms offer novel opportunities for user network building and this has changed the way we share information. The nature of social media has made users easy prey for cybercriminals. Organizations must increase their IT budgets to protect their social networks.

Cybersecurity: new perspectives 

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Youtube play key roles in communication among the global population. The biggest challenge social media poses to businesses is the ability to share information easily and quickly with a worldwide audience. Social media permits the spread of false and confidential information. Cybercriminals weaponize social media and use information gleaned to enable data breaches.

Despite research and industry efforts to ensure cybersecurity, breaches have become more common. Neiman Marcus and Target data breaches bring to light the fundamental flaws in security protocols such as the OpenSSL Heartbleed Bug and failures in government agency defenses against hacktivist groups.

Cyber threats in social media 

Social media platforms may not provide new types of cyber-attacks, but they substantially intensify the risk of being attacked by existing threats. From brand hijacking to reconnaissance and threat coordination, threat actors have been using social media to boost the frequency and effectiveness of cyberattacks.

Social engineering attacks

Social engineering can be used to elicit private information from users by using fake accounts on social media to build trust over time. For example, users may mention project and server names. Adding to this issue is the use of collaborative tools and the trend of using your own device for work. Attacks on New York Times and RSA are proof that social engineering attacks can be used for spear phishing. Social media websites become vulnerable due to tactics like cross-site scripting (XSS), phreaking, baiting and doxing.

Social networking sites

Threat actors can attack social media websites by using advertisements through third-party apps that include malicious code. Shortened URLs on Twitter can be employed to trick users into clicking on malicious links that can then be used to extract personal information if accessed through your work computer. Twitter is highly vulnerable to this method as it is simple to retweet a post that will be eventually shared by thousands of people.

Lack of social media policy

A failure to give proper training and parameters for the use of business social media accounts can lead to data breaches. Proper training needs to be provided for employees that handle the social media accounts of businesses and personal accounts as they are used for the business. The parameters and goals set by the company should be clearly stated and enforced. 

Security risks of mobile social media

The ease of access to social media via mobile devices makes this route popular with cybercriminals. Employees of business organizations may store and access company data on their mobile devices. Generally, mobile phones have weaker defense systems than PC. Smartphone users are more easily targeted by threat actors to reveal private information and even destroy user data.

Social media cybersecurity measures

One must always know that social networks cannot secure their environments or the users. The following measures help to ensure cybersecurity in social media

Privacy and security

Users must be selective about the information shared on social media. Most social media websites allow customization of privacy settings.

Operating systems, firewalls and anti-virus software

Mobile device operating systems should be kept up-to-date in addition to firewalls and antivirus software on the servers and networks accessed. Networks should be monitored for unusual traffic or access.

Awareness and training

This may be the most important protection against social media hacks. Employees should be given trained to recognize and protect themselves from social engineering attacks.

A comprehensive social media cybersecurity plan should incorporate measures to counter external factors and threats outside the control of the IT team. These include brand impersonations and physical security threats to top executives and employees. The challenges faced by businesses can be mitigated through collaboration, awareness, education and the right balance between privacy and security. 

Feba Maryann
Feba Maryann
Feba Maryann is a freelance journalist who writes for websites and magazines in Asia and North America. She is currently pursuing her Integrated Masters on Computer Science Engineering with a specialization in Data Science from VIT, Vellore.

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