It’s undeniable that social media has become part of the lives of us 21st century human beings. We regularly update our Twitter accounts to air our 140-character thoughts or updates, and carefully curate our Instagram feeds. We’re constantly on Facebook for updates from our friends and family and, increasingly, to check on the latest news-worthy headlines and celebrity buzz. Everybody can’t seem to get enough of social media – and hackers love it.

Here’s how hackers make the most out of our social media addiction.

They use it to mine information about you.
Sharing your middle name or birthday seems harmless enough, and posting throwback pictures from your grade school days seems like fun, but hackers can easily use such information to answer the personal questions included in online user authentication. It may sound paranoid, but it’s better if you keep all this information to yourself or your closest friends and family. Better yet, don’t add any strangers on your social media accounts. As another idea, have a fake online birthday and don’t share your real one.

They use your own information to take advantage of weak passwords.
The reason why it’s highly encouraged to use a sophisticated password that contains special characters and numbers is to thwart the method called brute force. Often hackers using password-guessing scripts that systematically try a number of possibilities until they finally get the right one. Another method hackers use is the dictionary attack, which strings various words from a dictionary based on your personal details. Hackers consider this method highly effective, as we’re often likely to use familiar words as passwords.

They get your contacts and send emails that contain malware.
Organizations and large companies are guilty of oversharing on their social media pages, making them highly susceptible targets. A common method to hack into the corporate computer is to send emails that contain malware to a number of employee emails, which you can easily find on social media. Once an unknowing employee opens the attachment, the malware infects the computer and opens a “back door” that leads the hacker to the company’s internal network.

To avoid such attacks, be vigilant about the information you share online and don’t add people you don’t know on your social networking accounts.

4 Comments
  1. I knew about the dangers of using social media already prior to reading this, but one of these methods are things I have never heard of. Using your commonly used words to crack your password seems super futuristic, although it does seem possible. I used to leave my Instagram on public, but swapped it back to private eventually, and after reading this, I’m glad I did. Who knows what information they could’ve gotten or passwords they could have cracked?

  2. I heard of this software which hackers and scammers can use to “mine” Facebook for emails. So should you mention your email somewhere on FB, odds are it can be found and someone may try to hack it or scammers [once they get hold of your email] will probably try to steal some money from you.

    And there are some hackers who’ll masquerade as “friends” send you a message and try to find out whatever they can about you. If someone is asking for information you aren’t sharing with the public on FB, don’t give it to them.

  3. I wasn’t aware of the extent of this, I really didn’t realise that so much information could be gained from Facebook, especially using your details and posts to guess passwords but I suppose it must work. I think I’m going to check my security settings and go through what information I made public after reading this.

  4. I think that the fact that a lot of people post really personal or specific information is one of the most dangerous parts of this… I know some people that literally post everything they do on their daily basis and actually accept everyone on Facebook, that’s extremely dangerous! I don’t know how they can actually live like that, but I guess they don’t really see the danger.
    Thank you so much for posting, I will keep it in mind.

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