Social media, in general, is a good thing for business. Unfortunately, its popularity has attracted cybercriminial attention. This means that there are more and more phishing scams and web threats that are out there to take advantage of un-savvy Internet users.
In a recent study by Pew Research, it was found that 46 per cent of Internet users believe that “most people can be trusted” while online. This trust benefits cybercriminals. Using social networking sites as a way to target their victims, cybercriminials acquire valuable information through online scams and threats. Users who click what they think is a normal link on a social network are led to malicious sites that look legitimate.
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“If you’re looking to join the hottest new social network, be careful where you click—your personal life may be at risk,” said Mike Chen, Product Marketing Manager at PC Tools. “Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the buzz surrounding these new social networks and features by tricking unsuspecting users to divulge personal information or download malware.”
PC Tools has predicted the top three threats that social media users should be on the lookout for while online:
1. Email alerts for “tagged” photos where YOU might appear online
Social networks are developing increased intelligence for facial recognition to assist with tagging photos. When you’re tagged in a photo or at a location in your photo album, you can often expect an email or notification letting you know where to view it online. Watch out! Cybercriminals may be using this as a tactic to get you to click on malicious links asking for information—possibly even prompting you to click on a link leading to a fake login and password entry form posing as your social network.
2. Online robots or “bots” on social networking sites will be more sophisticated
We believe within the next few months that social media “bots” will become more advanced, effectively creating human-looking profiles and personalities. Cybercriminals rely on bots because they are the fastest and most cost-effective way to spread malware, spyware and scams through social network sites.
Through these bots, criminals can auto-create bogus personalities on social networks, which can in turn link to fake companies that sell phony products—all to trick users into buying merchandise that isn’t real or spreading news that doesn’t actually exist.
3. An increase in fake invites to join “new” or “exclusive” social networks or social groups
New social networks are popping up every day, some of which are “invite only” making them more appealing. Cybercriminals could use this appeal as a method to lure users into clicking on fake invites for exclusive networks. Upon clicking on these invites, users could be asked to provide personal details such as name, login, password or birthdates which should not be released.
If you’ve fallen for one of these threats, PC Tools has award-winning technology that can help. Check out their Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus 2011 here.