Securing Your Organization: Cybersecurity in the Age of Social Media

Posted on by Tatyana Sanchez

The evolution of social media began in the late 1990’s. With advancing technology, social media has increasingly evolved. Globally, social media allows people to communicate, share information, create content, and more. However, there are negative aspects to social media – threats, attacks, breaches, and ransomware. We will unpack strategies to safeguard against social media threats and how to stay safe on social networking sites.

Understanding Social Media Security

Social media has become a networking tool we use every day. It is true that social media has become the gathering place for all kinds, yet it is not always the right kind – fraudsters have swarmed the social scenes for years. The latest common attack vectors on social media include phishing, social engineering, malware, third party vendors, Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS), and the list continues. Human vulnerability is a main vector for cyberattacks and the primary reason why it’s so important for users to understand social media security and how to stay safe online.

Seven Best Practices for Social Media Cybersecurity

Many question whether social media is safe to use. It’s imperative to follow social media safety tips when online.

Below outlines seven social media security best practices.

  1. Strong Passwords: Create a unique password and use more than one. If a hacker gets ahold of that one password you use everywhere, they will have access to all your information – leaving you more vulnerable.

  1. Regular Updates: Always make sure social media apps and devices are up to date with the latest software versions and security updates.

  1. Avoid Sharing Personal Information: By sharing your personal information such as where you live, birthdate, phone number, and interests. You make yourself vulnerable to scammers who use this information to spy, impersonate, and steal from you.

  1. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Using MFA can protect your accounts on social media. If a password was compromised, unauthorized users will still need to complete the second step requirement that they most likely won’t be able to meet.

  1. Be Aware of Third-Party Apps: Do not click on a pop-up ad that redirects you to another website without fact checking if the website is legitimate and trustworthy.

  1. Limit Social Media Access: Make sure you know what access you give to social platforms when signing up. Some apps will share your email addresses or other sensitive information which is permissible based on their privacy policies. Read agreements thoroughly before agreeing to them.  

  1. Security Awareness and Education: The most paramount step - educating yourself on social media threats. Being aware of suspicious activities, threat tactics, and policies can prevent a social media attack on an organization or user. 

Recognizing Social Media Threats

As stated earlier there are various attack vectors that lead to social media threats/attacks. It is crucial to be aware of the tactics cybercriminals use to strengthen your social media security.

Let’s look at a couple of hacking strategies used on social media.

Social Engineering: A tactic of manipulating, influencing, or deceiving a victim to gain control over a computer system. Social engineering attacks account for 17 % of all breaches in 2023.

Phishing: A form of social engineering used to send out messages posed as a reputable company or person to attain sensitive information such as social security and credit card numbers. Recently, a Chicago man fell victim to a phishing email, which was impersonating an employee from PayPal. The email stated he had made a transaction, and when the victim called to get a refund on this unauthorized transaction, he ended up losing $50,0000 to the scammers.

Malware: A software that is used to disrupt and harm a computer. For example, in 2021, a massive campaign installed malware into videos and channels on YouTube. The threat actors used a password stealing trojan malware to steal passwords, screenshots of active windows, cookies, credit cards stores in browsers and much more.

These are just some tactics used to attack social media platforms and users. Educating, training, and using the seven steps listed in this blog can help individuals spot suspicious activities and prevent themselves from falling victim to these attack vectors. It’s also important for companies to have an effective social media security prorgram to ensure users are safe in the evolving landscape of social media.

Enhancing Social Media Security Awareness

Organizations must strengthen their social media security to prevent the risks in advance to not only save money and reputations but lives. Cybercriminals continue to become savvy in social media attacks, leaving many organizations and users vulnerable. There are many resources online to learn how to stay safe on social media. For example, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provides insight on how to stay safe on social networking sites and the RSAC library has a variety of content on security measures to use online. In the age of social media and the increasing landscape of social media threats, it’s critical to educate organizations to bring awareness to their internal and external users. To learn more about social media threats, register for RSA Conference 2024 so you don’t miss out on this session with Jenny Reich: social media and emerging cyberthreats!

Tatyana Sanchez

Content & Program Coordinator, RSA Conference

Mobile & IoT Security

social networking social engineering phishing malware security education security awareness hackers & threats mobile device security application security

Blogs posted to the website are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the blog author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of RSA Conference™, or any other co-sponsors. RSA Conference does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented in this blog.

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