1(630)802-8605 Ravi.das@bn-inc.net

Well, first thing today is Happy Labor Day!  I hope that you all out there have a good day off from work, and are enjoying time with family and friends, and eating those delicious barbeque burgers!  As we are all off today, probably the most widely used mechanism to reach out to others will that of Social Media. 

Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Instagram, or Pinterest (and whatever else is out there), we will be using all their messaging platforms, and of course sharing pictures and videos.

But keep in mind, the use of Social Media tools is also a prime attack source for the Cyberattacker.  The most notorious for this is Facebook.  There does not go by a day when we don’t hear something in the news about them. 

At least I see it every day, and I just ignore it.  Next in line for hacks is Twitter, although you don’t hear too much about them lately.  The latest hack I came across was earlier this year, when their password database was covertly broken into.  And I barely hear anything about Pinterest or Instagram.

So just how bad are the Cyberattacks against Social Media?  This question for the most part was answered by an entity known as “Arkose Labs”.  Here is what their Q3 Fraud and Abuse report discovered, in which over 1.2 billion transactions were examined in real on a global basis:

*53% of the login credentials found on Social Media are fraudulent;

*25% of new applications for accessing Social Media sites are also fraudulent;

*1 out of very 10 Social Media transactions that take place is either done by an automated bot system or a Cyberattacker;

*China is the main source for all these fake login credentials at 59.3%, followed by the U.S., Russia, the Philippines, UK and Indonesia;

*Overall, 73% of the attacks come from automated bots (mostly from China);

*43% of all attacks on Social Media accounts are largely driven by a real human being;

*The following are the industries that are most targeted with Social Media fraud:’

               *Technology companies:

               Although China is the main culprit, there are other countries around the world in which fake Social Media accounts are created.  According to the report, these countries employ a large number of very low paid workers that are specifically hired to create malicious Social Media   accounts.  They primarily target the technology companies in the developed nations, such as that of the United States and those in the European Union.

               *The Financial sector:

               Although they are not quite badly hit as the tech sector, there about 9% of the total Social    Media traffic that was analyzed hit this industry.  The attacks specifically involved hijacking a specific user’s account in order to covertly transfer money.  Interestingly enough, the attacks on legitimate Social Media accounts occurred mostly during the business hours, and during other so-called high traffic periods, especially that of the tax season, where both individual taxpayers  and accounting firms alike are prime targets.  Even the IRS is a target during this time frame.

               *The Online Travel sector:

               The study found a rather stark trend:  Any payments done online for either leisure or business  purposes are 10x more likely to be attacked than another market segment.  For example, it was discovered that 10% of all login attempts were fraudulent, and 46% of all payments made online       were also fraudulent in nature. 

               *The Retail sector:

               This is probably the hardest sector in terms of fraudulent Social Media activity.  But in this    instance, unlike the other sectors just examined, over 50% of the fraudulent activity that takes place are conducted by actual human beings, and not by bots.

My Thoughts on This

Well, there you have it, a breakdown of how Social Media is fraud is transpiring thus far in 2019.  We have only have four more months to go, so it will be quite interesting how the year shakes out in this regard for Cybersecurity.  But the important thing, what can you do to keep yourself safe?  I am sure that you will hear quite a bit on this, depending upon who you ask.

Probably the best line of defense, as always in my opinion, is to be vigilant of all your accounts.  The moment you detect any sort of fraudulent activity, immediately close out your account, or at least suspend for some amount of time. 

You can also report this to the Social Media sites.  I know that they have become much more proactive about freezing accounts if you report any sort of fraud.  Some of them even have tools where you can check your login activity, in order to make sure that there is no fraudulent activity that is taking place.

I know that starting up a new Social Media account can be a real pain the butt, in not just a mere hassle.  For instance, if you have a lot of friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter, you would lose all of them if you must start over.

This can even be worse if you are a business owner and depend a lot upon Social Media for your marketing efforts.  But the somewhat good news here is that I have never heard of any direct Cyberattacks on business accounts for either Facebook or Twitter. 

In these instances, you are probably better off using Pinterest and/or Instagram, or even both.  From what I understand, these Social Media sites take their security seriously, and immediately ban any account holder if they detect any sort of fraudulent activity taking place.  Another good option to use for your business, and even on a personal level, is Linked In.

Another piece of advice that I offer is just simply limit your use of Social Media to only when it is absolutely needed.  I rarely get on Facebook or Twitter unless I have the urge to do so, but I use Linked In quite a bit both for personal and business purposes.  In the end this could be a good thing for you, as it is becoming very important now for us to become disengaged from technology.

We are so inundated every day by emails, text, Social Media, etc. that it comes to the point we just must turn it all on off and take time to live life before we had all this stuff at our disposal.  In other words, take the time and smell the roses around you.  It will do you wonders.