Social Media: Threats, Risks & Security

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

In this lesson, we'll take a look at social media, what it is, some threats or risks associated with it, and how to protect yourself when on using social media.

The Importance of Interaction

We seem to favor personal interaction with others. We like talking with our neighbors, we enjoy having coffee with our friends, and we love to go out for drinks after work. Let's face it, we're a social bunch. So, being the technology-based society that we are, and with the prevalence of the Internet, it only makes sense that we would extend that interaction to the electronic world of the web. And in fact, we have. Many destinations now exist on the worldwide web that provides the interaction we crave. They are jointly known as social media.

What is Social Media?

Social media is a collection of Internet-based websites that promote the personal and business-focused interaction of individuals around the world. The idea is to share various types of information (messages, documents, videos) collectively known as content, on a variety of topics. Its underlying purpose is to share new ideas, opinions, and thoughts to as many people as possible. There are a number of social media websites out there. Some of the more prominent ones include:

  • Facebook - a social media website focused on individuals and businesses from all walks of life; their interests, activities, and the details that make them who they are.
  • LinkedIn - a social media website focused on business professionals; their activities, their qualifications, and the companies that employ them.
  • YouTube - a social media website focused on video content that covers virtually any topic you can imagine, from a child's first steps to the latest music video.
  • Twitter - a social media website that focuses on distributing information in small packages called 'tweets', with the purpose of giving up-to-the-accounts of things that are happening.

What Are Some Threats/Risks Associated with Social Media?

With the popularity of social media, there comes many threats or risks. Social engineering uses trusted personas to gain sensitive information on a person or persons through which more damaging activities can be attempted, such as theft or malware infections. Phishing includes the theft of confidential information or money. For example, PayPal scammers may try to steal your login information by sending out an email that instructs users to click on a link in order to fix a discrepancy with their account. Unfortunately, this link leads to a fake PayPal login page and the user's information is stolen and delivered to attackers.

Fake accounts are the creation of fictitious accounts on some social media platform. This often includes using a celebrity's name so the attacker can spread false information and gain trust. Site compromise occurs when an attacker embeds malicious code on a site, in things like advertisements, for anyone to activate. Spam and malware threats occur when an attacker embeds spam or viruses in some content that is distributed by anyone downloading that content. Lastly, personal or confidential information that is made available to the world is known as information disclosure.

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