Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have created digital communities where people can share their thoughts, opinions, photos, videos, and other content with their friends and family. However, with every piece of information shared to these networks is an opportunity for cybercriminals to infiltrate and possibly steal your personal data. Social media phishing has seen a steady increase over the last few years, with no signs of slowing down.
What is Social Media Phishing?
Social media phishing is a type of fraud in which users receive an enticing invitation to click on an infected link or provide personal information. Cybercriminals use a variety of methods to pry this information out of you, such as:
· Sending private messages that ask you personal questions or provide malicious links for you to click on.
· Creating fake profiles of familiar people to scam you and other users within your networks.
· Hacking your profile and sending out messages to others in your network on your behalf.
· Creating fake prizes or giveaways that ask you to pay in to participate.
How to Prevent This from Happening
- Think Before You Click: If you are provided malicious links, don’t click on them. Hover your mouse over them to see the origin of the URL. If it looks suspicious, it’s most likely a phishing message.
- Don’t Engage with Rogue Messages: Whether it be comments, instant messages, or emails, ask yourself if the messenger would genuinely contact you about this information. Above all, don’t send any personal information through messenger.
- Verify Profiles: Is the person reaching out to you legit? Their profile may contain missing information, photos, and other key pieces upon further glance. These discrepancies are generally red flags when it comes to spotting fake profiles.
- Update Software: Be sure to update your web browsers and security programs such as antivirus software with the latest security measures.
- Be Careful What You Post: Cybercriminals can gather information about you from your posts and use it against you or other users. Be cognizant of what you put out there and who you’re engaging with.
Make sure to report any suspected fraud to the social media platform’s website or by going to reportfraud.ftc.gov.