Are You or Your Friends Sharing a Scam?

Social media is a great way to connect with others and share what you love. But all that sharing can become problematic if due diligence is left out of the conversation.

Do you think any of your friends are guilty of sending links without checking them first? In Norton’s 2012 Cybercrime Report, they found that 18% of social network users do not check links to verify their security or validity before sharing them with others. These auto-sharers have good intentions, but their posts can have disastrous consequences to their online friends.

It’s easy to be an auto-sharer — you spot a great article that has your friend’s name written all over it and you quickly ping it to them. You assume they’ll thank you later for what you thought was a good find. However, your friend won’t be so thankful if that link turns out to be a portal to potential cybercrimes.

Norton reports that approximately 35% of users have fallen victim to cybercrimes on social media. Topping the list of cybercrimes are phishing scams.

Phishing scams take many forms: an article on a “miracle” diet pill, a shocking video of your favorite celebrity or a breaking news bulletin about a major world event. Time-after-time scammers cook up unbelievable headlines in hopes of luring social media users to click on their fake story so they can infest users’ computers or mobile devices with malware.

Malware can allow cybercriminals to gain full control of your device. They can corrupt files, follow your every move and even take over your online accounts. In 2012, 16% of online social media users reported that someone had hacked into their profile or pretended to be them.

So what can you do to protect against cybercrime on social media?

  1. Start with yourself
    Set a good example by only sharing links for trusted sources. Trustworthy sites indicate where information was obtained and usually refrain from bombarding visitors with ads. Do a search for the website and see what others have to say about its reputation. If the majority of feedback is positive, you can start sharing with confidence.

  2. Be wary of link shorteners
    Link shorteners are frequently used to meet character limitations, but scammers have started using them to mask what site users will be redirecting to. Consider using the McAfee-verified link checker www.urluncover.com to ensure links are safe before you click.

  3. Businesses can botch cybersecurity too
    Don’t think for a second that businesses are immune to cybercrimes on social media. They can be the worst offenders. Companies have been flocking to social media in hopes of connecting with consumers in a new way. But many don’t realize just how vital cybersecurity is when it comes to social media. Numerous companies and government organizations have had their social media accounts hacked, causing significant cybersecurity issues and PR nightmares.

  4. Focus on your friends
    Take a hard look at who’s sharing what on your social news feed. Be on alert that your friends might not be checking every link they relay, and unfriend/unfollow users who habitually share spam. Finally, spread the word on how easily cybercrimes are shared on social media. Teaching your online friends how to share with care is a great way to make everyone’s social media experience an enjoyable one.

Want more information on how to stay safe from identity crimes on social media? Visit the Social Media Education Center on FIC.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.

Laura Bruck, VP Marketing at EZShield Fraud Protection
Laura Bruck joined EZShield in February of 2009, leading their marketing efforts and working with sales...
Read more about Laura Bruck.

1 Comments

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