First Off, What is Spam?
Spam is unwarranted messages sent to thousands of people through several channels of web-based communication by an attacker attempting to download malware onto your device or steal your personal information. This attack comes in a variety of forms, some target specific people others are impersonal, some are hacked social accounts and others are simply fake accounts. With a myriad of traps it becomes hard not to fall victim. A spammer simply needs to peak your interest, and though it seems hard for them to do so, it definitely happens.
Now, Where Would You Find Social Media Spams?
If you don’t usually pay close attention to your friend request list and your current friend list, you should probably start, because these are the places where the spamming begins. Some attackers are efficient by utilizing a single fake account sent out to thousands of social media users, with the hope of a few acceptances. Once the person accepts the spammer’s request, a variety of communication is open for the spammer to use as their playground. However, spamming can also begin through the use of a hacked account. The spammer will find your login information and use this to send attacks to your authentic friends and make them the unlikely victims.1 Sadly, that was me.
Next, the attacker sends spam through instant messages, posts on a user’s wall, comments on a user’s post, or via party invitations. Nearly everything could be a risk, especially when there are a variety of tools to do their dirty business such as ads, links, fraudulent reviews, and pictures. Attackers attract people through the savvy use of clickbaiting.
Clickbaiting essentially is an appealing, yet unbelievable headline with an attached link, making the user eager to read more. For example, you have most likely scrolled down your social feed and seen a before and after picture of someone who lost 100 pounds in just one month by following a few steps that you must access through an attached link. This supposedly helpful link will most likely not exist or redirect you to something else entirely. In other words, they bait you by your need to know something.
You may not realize, but there are a variety of channels a single spam message can be found, making it harder to resolve the issue completely. First, a spam notification pops up on your computer or phone, then you have the actual message on your wall for you or others to open, lastly, if you connect your email to your profile, you will receive an email version of the spam. This makes for a triple attack, each one as harmful as the other.
The last location you and your company should be wary is your email inbox. As sidetracked as this statement may seem, it is an easy scam people miss. Fake social media brand emails sent by an ambiguous support center from the site is actually a sly spammer hoping you don’t read thoroughly. The attacker produces an email telling you, the user, to click on this link because your password must change or you have new friend requests. Such calls to action will feel normal for some social media users, and as a result, the user will click on an attachment known as a Trojan or a link that redirects them to a malicious site.
- The username for you or your company’s social networking accounts should not be easily identifiable to spammer’s software. Instead of using firstname.lastname@example.org you should use email@example.com. The first email is clearly laying out the first name, last initial, and most likely the year the person was born, while the second email address is discreet on all accounts.
- Preview all of your messages if possible, such as using the preview mode on email, or checking your notifications without clicking on them. If they appear to be spam, delete them before officially opening and replying them.
- Create email addresses specifically for your social networking sites, so you do not have to constantly be careful about social spam entering your already overused personal and company inbox. (Psst, I do this with all of my social sites, and it really helps.)
- You could use spam filters such as SpamBayes for Windows or POPFile for either Windows or Mac. They will keep a load off your personal screening practices.
- Lastly, if you have an IT person at your company, forward the message to them. With their expertise, they can block these types of messages from your computer.
With all of this information, are you still worried about your network’s safety when it comes to Social Networking cyberattacks? Then take Total Computer Solution’s free online network security assessment to see where your company stands.