Internet Social Networking Risks
Internet-based social networking sites have created a revolution in social connectivity. However, con artists, criminals, and other dishonest actors are exploiting this capability for nefarious purposes.
There are primarily two tactics used to exploit online social networks. In practice, they are often combined.
1. Computer savvy hackers who specialize in writing and manipulating computer code to gain access or install unwanted software on your computer or phone.
2. Social or human hackers who specialize in exploiting personal connections through social networks. Social hackers, sometimes referred to as “social engineers,” manipulate people through social interactions (in person, over the phone, or in writing).
Humans are a weak link in cyber security, and hackers and social manipulators know this. They try to trick people into getting past security walls. They design their actions to appear harmless and legitimate.
Falling for an online scam or computer hack could be damaging for an individual victim as well as the organization the victim works for. Such risks include:
Vulnerability of Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites are Internet-based services that allow people to communicate and share information with a group.
Once information is posted to a social networking site, it is no longer private. The more information you post, the more vulnerable you may become. Even when using high security settings, friends or websites may inadvertently leak your information.
Personal information you share could be used to conduct attacks against you or your associates. The more information shared, the more likely someone could impersonate you and trick one of your friends into sharing personal information, downloading malware, or providing access to restricted sites.
Predators, hackers, business competitors, and foreign state actors troll social networking sites looking for information or people to target for exploitation.
Information gleaned from social networking sites may be used to design a specific attack that does not come by way of the social networking site.
Baiting - Someone gives you a USB drive or other electronic media that is preloaded with malware in the hope you will use the device and enable them to hack your computer.
Do not use any electronic storage device unless you know its origin is legitimate and safe. Scan all electronic media for viruses before use.
Click-jacking - Concealing hyperlinks beneath legitimate clickable content which, when clicked, causes a user to unknowingly perform actions, such as downloading malware, or sending your ID to a site. Numerous click-jacking scams have employed “Like” and “Share” buttons on social networking sites. Disable scripting and iframes in whatever Internet browser you use. Research other ways to set your browser options to maximize security.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) - Malicious code is injected into a benign or trusted website. A Stored XSS Attack is when malicious code is permanently stored on a server; a computer is compromised when requesting the stored data. A Reflected XSS Attack is when a person is tricked into clicking on a malicious link; the injected code travels to the server then reflects the attack back to the victim’s browser. The computer deems the code is from a “trusted” source.
Turn off “HTTP TRACE” support on all webservers. Research additional ways to prevent becoming a victim of XSS.
Doxing - Publicly releasing a person’s identifying information including full name, date of birth, address, and pictures typically retrieved from social networking site profiles.
Be careful what information you share about yourself, family, and friends (online, in print, and in person).
Elicitation - The strategic use of conversation to extract information from people without giving them the feeling they are being interrogated. Be aware of elicitation tactics and the way social engineers try to obtain personal information.
Pharming - Redirecting users from legitimate websites to fraudulent ones for the purpose of extracting confidential data. (E.g.: mimicking bank websites.)
Watch out for website URLs that use variations in spelling or domain names, or use “.com” instead of “.gov”, for example. Type a website’s address rather than clicking on a link.
Most computer infections come from websites. Just visiting a website can expose your computer to malware even if you do not download a file or program. Often legitimate sites may be unknowingly infected. Websites with information on popular celebrities or current sensational news items are frequently hijacked by criminals, or criminals may create such websites to lure victims to them.
Phishing - Usually an email that looks like it is from a legitimate organization or person, but is not and contains a link or file with malware. Phishing attacks typically try to snag any random victim. Spear phishing attacks target a specific person or organization as their intended victim.
Do not open email or email attachments or click on links sent from people you do not know. If you receive a suspicious email from someone you know, ask them about it before opening it.