Social engineering scams are so much more rampant these days than ever before. There will certainly be suspicious-looking items in your inbox when you check your emails, which are most likely phishing emails. Many people now know to avoid clicking these malicious emails, which is a good thing. But still, their vast amount makes you wonder, where do social engineering scams come from anyway? The very simple answer to that is social media.
How Social Media Is Used for Social Engineering scams
According to the latest count, there are more than 4.74 billion social media users today. For hackers, each of these users is a potential target. Hackers are using social media to entice unsuspecting users into their traps because there is such a large online population. Specifically, they create fake accounts that are used in either of the following four methods.
Manipulating Public Opinion
People can be very impressionable, especially regarding things they see on social media. Social engineers take advantage of this vulnerability to sway the public’s view on certain things, like politics. Political parties routinely create millions of fake accounts to spread information that could sway voters during elections. Online, posts from phony accounts can spread quickly and have a significant impact on voters for very little money. This is what you call Social Engineering scams.
It is very common to see posts on social media where you can supposedly win a prize if you like or share their page. Or how about those pages that are apparently on the verge of closing down and need to dispose of their inventory quickly, where you can get a chance to get one of their products by simply sharing their page. These are nothing but social engineering scams called false advertising.
After Steve Jobs’ death, a viral post claimed Apple was honoring him by giving away iPhones and iPads.. Millions of people from around the world clicked on the malicious link, thinking they were just entering a raffle. What happened instead was that their devices got infected with a nasty virus.
Minimally Invested Profiles or MIPs
Minimally invested profiles are created en masse and are usually bare profiles, usually with seductive profile photos that are meant to get people interested enough to add them as a contact, typically on Facebook. Once the connection has been established, the hacker will then use this fake MIP to send malware through messenger or post malicious links on your wall. That is when they start the social engineering scams.
Fully Invested Profiles or FIPs
The intended purpose of fully invested profiles is pretty much the same as that of the MIPs, which is to get people to click on certain links. But an FIP involves more effort as it is made to look authentic to the eyes of the target victim. It could imitate the account of real contact, and they might try to add you saying that they created a new account because they were hacked, or they forgot the password, and so on.
You can actually spot these fake profiles easily by practicing due diligence. Check out every account before accepting friend requests. If the account is relatively new and is suspiciously lacking in friends or content, then that is a red flag right there.
Protect Yourself From Social Engineering Scams
Social media may be part of our daily lives, but that doesn’t mean you can use it carelessly. Never be caught unaware when you are online, especially when you are using social media. This goes for both your personal and business accounts. If you use social media for business, it’s best to train all your employees in online attack prevention.
We have prepared a 10-question quiz that you can answer just to see how prepared you are to face social engineering scams or attacks. If you feel there is room for improvement, give us a call and we can step in anytime to boost your defense and increase your protection against online threats.