Are You FB Friends With Your Hacker?

Social Media Spying By Cyber Criminals Is On The Rise  

You know those random friend requests that you get from people you’ve never met? They may not be entirely accidental or random at all — in fact, many cybercriminals deploy fake profiles in hopes of a friend request slipping through the cracks … and it’s working.

In addition to social media spying, hackers regularly employ social engineering, malware-based phishing, old hardware hacking, and voice phishing (aka “Vishing”) to compromise user’s privacy and steal his or her information. Some of these methods may be unscrupulous, but they aren’t technically illegal — which makes it even more important for users to stay vigilant in their online activity and security efforts.

Top Five Hacker Favorites: Data Collection Methods That Can Make Your Information Vulnerable

Keep your information secure and mitigate your risk of a stolen identity by being aware of these most common methods — and take action when necessary to protect yourself against them:

Social Media Spying

With the advent of social media and the somewhat viral dependency many people have on it, it’s no wonder that cybercriminals are turning to social as a way to triage potential victims. A public forum on which soon-to-be victims spend hours sharing their personal information, social media is low-hanging fruit — a true hacker’s dreamscape.

You can never be 100 percent certain that your information is secure on any of the most popular social media platforms: Security settings reset themselves; platform updates cause private profiles to become public; and unsuspecting users make connections with total strangers either by accident or because of sheer laziness. All of these instances open up a vault of private information that’s free for the hacker’s taking. Some of the more obvious details users should avoid revealing on their social media pages include personal information such as maiden names, birth dates and phone numbers. Of course, vacation status should never be advertised either — it can give thieves a perfect opportunity to track down your residence and take advantage of your absence.

Social Engineering

Hackers often create traps to generate the exposure of personal information. Known as “social engineering,” this method depends on social interaction, trust, and human empathy to be effective. When it’s done successfully, social engineering can reap great rewards for the hacker in terms of useful personal data — and it requires a lot less guesswork than traditional methods.

In social engineering hacks, cybercriminals portray themselves as a legitimate company or individual to gain a victim’s trust and exploit his or her need for a product or service. Industry experts recommend being especially cautious of urgent emails that request confirmation of payments, login details and social media updates.

Old Hardware Restoration

Experts recommend being extra-vigilant when throwing away or trading in old smartphones, tablets and computer hardware. Never get rid of these devices without being absolutely sure you have wiped them clean of personal data.

If you are tossing an old hard drive, be sure to completely destroy the data before you part ways with it. If you neglect this all-important step, you could be handing over your identity to a savvy cybercriminal that makes his or her living by restoring old user data.

Malware-Based Phishing

These days, malware has become one of the hacker’s most prolific tools of corruption. By making victims feel they need to subscribe to a security fix or patch to avoid losing valuable computer files, hackers are able to take over your computer hardware. In some cases, these cybercriminals take things a step further by making expensive ransomware demands in exchange for the release of personal information and files — and they won’t return your data until you pay up. Even worse, in some cases, they take the money and demand more before turning over a victim’s files.

Vishing (aka voice phishing)

Beware of cybercriminals that pose as government agencies via phone and voicemail. These hackers will often appeal to your sense of trust by offering urgent, confidential information, but before you can access it, you must first confirm it with sensitive personal data.

Globalquest Solutions is the trusted choice when it comes to staying ahead of the latest information technology security safeguards, innovations, and news. If you are concerned that you may be the victim of a cyberattack, contact us at 716-601-3524 or send us an email at info@globalquestinc.com for more information.

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