In the last lesson, we discussed how cybercriminals use hijacked websites in order to scam students. In this lesson, we will look at how cybercriminals use social media in order to scam students.
We live in an increasingly connected world. Communication that took hours, days or weeks to do in the past can now be done instantaneously. Friends you have not seen in years are as close as a mouse click away.
For students, in particular, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are now a primary source for communicating. They rely upon social media to gain greater access to information regarding potential schools, employment opportunities, and their peers – which makes these sites prime targets for cybercriminal activity.
Social Media scams are on the rise in fact according to the United States
What are the risks of social media scams for students
According to the Canadian Government Cyber Security website, students run particular dangers on social media sites:
- Your personal information could be stolen by a cybercriminal, putting your identity and accounts at risk.
- The personal information you share online could give cyber criminals enough to piece together your email address and password.
- Cybercriminals could gain access to any account that has a password recovery service and use any saved information to make purchases.
- Links in messages from cybercriminals posing as someone you know could be a part of a phishing attack trying to trick you into sharing personal information or contain malware that infects your computer.
- Geotagged photos are photos that have geographical information, like your current location, added to them – and today, most smartphones and digital cameras have a function that automatically geotags all your photos unless you turn it off. Geotags can expose where you live, when you’re traveling and even what car you drive, which could make you a target for robbery.
- When you update your status with your whereabouts on a regular basis, you could tip someone off to your routine, and invite real-life threats like robberies, break-ins, or stalking.
- If you add “friends,” you don’t know; you could become the victim of a scam.
- Apps deleted from your account may not be entirely deleted – the creator may still have access to your information.
- If you don’t have a secure password, others could gain access to your profile and pose as you – and potentially send out spam or fake posts that are damaging to you.
- Potential employers could search social networking sites to get a sense of your character. If you’ve uploaded damaging or embarrassing photos or posts to your social network account, you could hurt your reputation and your chances of employment.
Best practices to prevent Social Media scams
Choose a strong password
- Choose secure passwords for all of your social media accounts
- Make sure all of your passwords are unique – in other words, do not use the same password for all of your social media accounts.
- Use a password manager that stores encrypted passwords online.
Check your privacy settings
Make sure that only the right people can see your profile
Always think carefully about any information you choose to share online
- Don’t provide your information (personal or financial) online unless you know the website you are using is legitimate, secure, and encrypted
- Be wary of sharing private pictures or videos with strangers. Scammers will use compromising materials to blackmail their targets.
- Never send money to a stranger. Transferring funds to someone you only know online could mean the money’s going towards criminal activity
Carefully review all new friend requests.
- Be wary of newly-created profiles with limited or no content.
- Lookout for profiles you thought you were already connected with – is it a cloned account?
- If it is someone you have never met and do not know – what is their motive for connecting with you, and how can you trust them with your information?
If you are a victim of a social media scam, take the following steps:
- Stop all contact with the scam artist and block his or her phone numbers, instant messages, and email addresses.
- Keep copies of all communications.
- Report the matter to the social media website.
- Report the matter to your local police department.
- Report the matter to a legislative authority in your are like the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
In lesson 4, we will look into some Phishing scams perpetrated on students