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Social Media Dangers & Computer Security

Posted on May 10, 2011
Internet scammers have trained their sights on social media hubs like Facebook and Twitter. What dangers do you face when visiting and posting on social media websites and how can you protect yourself?
 
Tags: social media dangers

Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace are growing by leaps and bounds: Facebook has surpassed 470 million users, and Twitter has over 70 million. With this growth comes an increase in social media dangers. What are the threats facing members of social media sites and how can people safeguard their computer's security?

Common Facebook and Twitter Scams

There are several scams that get perpetuated on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter over and over again. One common scam is getting you to use third-party apps like widgets or calendars or animations. These then have access to your account and may be used to spread malicious links or viruses.

Many social media scams involve phishing. Phishing scams come in the form of messages or communication that appears to be from someone or some company you know. For instance, you may receive links purporting to be from friends, but instead come from hijacked accounts, and their goal is to get you to give up your login and password too.

Sometimes scammers will create a website that looks like the real thing. It will have a name like "twitter.twitterscams.com" except the middle word isn't likely to be twitter scams, unless you're dealing with very honest criminals. A quick glance at the address bar may confuse you into thinking it's the real thing, and the page will look exactly like the real thing. Again, this is intended to steal your login information. If this happens on a site like Facebook, where people divulge large amounts of personal information to their private friend network, this could quickly lead to serious identity theft.

How to Protect Yourself From Social Media Dangers

Think before clicking a link in any social media website. Did it come from a friend? If not, then obviously do not click. If it came from a friend, does it seem like something they would send you? For instance, it's unlikely that a reserved friend would send an "OMG! Look at my clothing mishap!" video.

Oops, you clicked anyway. Now what? Well, pay attention to where that took you. If clicking a video link took you to a regular web page asking for you to log in to see it, or even just asking to access your profile, run away quickly. It's a common phishing scam that thousands or more fall for daily.

The same goes for Twitter. URL-shortening services are often used to disguise links to malicious websites. Most Twitter clients today have URL expansion built in, letting you mouse over a shortlink to see where it really goes.

·    Don't click any links, pictures, or videos you don't trust.
·    Check the address bar of any page that asks you for permission to access your account or for login information.
·    Keep your computer and Internet browser updated. Operating system and browser updates are often done to patch newly-discovered security flaws.
·    Run antivirus software regularly.
·    Be careful about who you friend.
·    Guard your personal information. Don't give out your email address or other information willy-nilly.

Thanks to persistent and creative Internet criminals, social media dangers are on the rise. In addition to always using reliable computer security software offered by trusted names on the market, know what kinds of dangers — scams, viruses, misdirected websites, and more — exist, and you're already on the road to protecting yourself from them.


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