Commentary

Social Media Still Riddled With Security Issues

We’re now over a decade into the social media age, but a significant proportion of social media users are still leaving themselves open to hacks, stalking and impersonation through basic errors and negligence, according to a new survey from IDC and Kaspersky Lab. The survey polled around 18,000 people around the world about their social media habits.

Overall 78% of respondents said they used Facebook. And while roughly a third of respondents said they shared posts and other personal information publicly, 9% of the total survey group was doing so unwittingly, believing this content was only visible to their online friends. Furthermore, a quarter of survey respondents said they will click on a link from a friend without asking where it links to -- a major vulnerability if the friend’s profile has been taken over by a hacker.

There’s also still a lot of what might be termed “promiscuous friending,” with 12% of respondents saying they will add anyone who asks to their online network, even if they don’t know them; 31% said they would do so for someone who is a “friend of a friend,” again raising the risk of hacking (as a hacker could gain access to a profile, add fake profiles to the profile’s circle of friends, and then use these connections to approach other users).

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Kaspersky added that social media users’ unsafe behaviors also pose a threat to their employers, potentially compromising IT security at the organizational level.

Data published separately by the Identity Theft Research Center recently revealed that 178 million Americans were exposed to cyber attacks in 2015, including high-profile breaches of records at the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management and the online dating site Ashley Madison.

Another online security firm, Micro Trend, is predicting that 2016 will be the “year of online extortion,” as more and more hackers use “ransomware” to take control of devices and demand payment to release them.

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