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The Dark Side of Social Media: How Cybercriminals Target Your Personal Data

Social Media Cybersecurity

Crime is everywhere; unfortunately, social media platforms are not the exception.

Yes, Facebook, LinkedIn, X, and any other digital channel you choose are excellent for creating brand awareness, reaching more customers, and engaging with them. Still, it doesn't mean it is 100% safe. As a more significant amount of users go to the internet without worrying about anything, sharing personal data just for fun, in the dark side of these platforms, thefts, terrorists, and any other type of criminal wait just for the right moment to cyberattack. 

Statistics from Zipdo show that 75% of IT professionals believe that social media platforms pose the most significant risk for cyber threats, and the amount of social media attacks has increased by 43% since 2019.

With this increase, the wisest thing to do is to secure your business by what is the modus operandi of these criminals and take the cybersecurity preventions to keep all your business data safe.

Keep reading this article as we will explain these two aspects so you can do social media marketing in a relaxed and secure way.

CodeDesign is a leading digital marketing agency ranked #1 in Lisbon, Portugal. You could work with us to accelerate your business growth.

Why is Social Media Dangerous for Businesses?

Have you seen how much data you share on social media?

  • Location
  • Contact information
  • Stories that show your business location
  • Links to workers tagged in posts

While these platforms are essential for your business advertising purposes, with so much data, being a victim of social engineering attacks gets easier. By displaying significant data, thieves can use it to execute data or credential theft, phishing attacks, and any other scam.

As you see, this danger doesn't only apply to your business accounts, as criminals can also get this information from your workers, which is another sign that you should safeguard your business.

The more data you share, the more they can get from you, and with social engineering, they can get to the weak point where they can completely hack your social accounts.

But what are the most common causes of cyber attacks?

Let's see.


Sharing more than you should is a great danger to your business. As social platforms are an attention center, sometimes business people and workers can get too "trustworthy" with followers and start sharing information like business or customer data or even their personal life experiences with close friends and family. Cybercriminals can then use this data to:

  • Spear phishing attempts: using fake accounts, criminals can get personal data by sending fake surveys or emails.
  • Whaling attacks: using sensitive information to target senior executives and trick them into revealing business data or to transfer funds.
  • Spoofing: Impersonating close people to the company so they can get more information from actual workers or executives. They can identify these people by looking at your likes and comments to see the closest ones.

Even if you don't share such personal information, by looking at photos or people tagged in the posts, criminals can make their way out to steal their digital identities or hack their accounts.

Unprotected devices:

Social media platforms are so easy for businesses to use that managers sometimes don't worry too much about the protection of their devices. Consequently, this habit increases the chances of data theft, as with fewer security boundaries, opportunist thieves can access your business account without requiring authentication.

From this point, criminals can go all the way in to access your data, including confidential information, customer lists, and, even more dangerous, your credit card data. This company takeover can go even further as they can send malicious links to other users within your company, launching realistic phishing attacks on all your close friend lists.

Data aggregation

Quizzes are fun, aren't they?

In the early stages of Facebook, there were hundreds of quizzes letting you know "What "Friends" character are you?" or "What is your zodiac ascendant depending on your personal information?." Nonetheless, this second test could be the key to accessing all your profiles and personal data since these tests, more than psycho-zodiac knowledge, are more an excuse to access your data.

Many hackers take advantage of these "harmless quizzes" to steal information from users asking "innocent questions" about you. Nonetheless, questions like your birth date or your pet's name are common security questions among many social platforms, and so, by responding to these quizzes, they get all they need to enter into your profiles.

It's essential to be careful with any survey or quiz you are responding to and verify if it comes from a liable source.

How do you Protect your Business Data in Social Media?

We can't live without them, so how can you safely manage your business within this place?

Indeed, you have taken many cybersecurity measures to take care of all your business data, but there are other ways you can ensure everything will be fine.

Create Strong Passwords

The biggest mistake you can make with password creation is making it too obvious. So, putting very close things to you, like your birthday or someone else's, your pet's name, or your favorite rock band, is an obvious option for hackers who get to know a little bit more about your personal life.

To start, don't make them noticeable; instead, get something a little bit outside of your close friend's radar.

It could be a date that something significant happened, but you are the only one who knows it; a pretty indie film you only know about or, if you know any foreign language that closer hackers to your city don't know, add it. Can you imagine a Japanese or Arabic-written password that will be hard to figure out?

Even tricks like replacing letters from signs, like 1= ! or ¡, or 3= e or E, are greater tricks to make your passwords harder to figure out.

Every social platform should have a different password if they get with it; the game is over for every digital channel. While we know that managing too many secret words can be overwhelming, we recommend you use a password manager like Google Password, and, as paper will never get old, write them on a page that you keep safe somewhere you only know.

Adjust Privacy Settings

Adjust the social media platform's privacy settings to ensure you share your data and information most comfortably. In the case of these platforms, their updates in privacy policy can cause significant changes to your settings, so it is good to be aware of any of them.

Be Mindful of What You Share

Social networks force us to constantly share to please the "almighty algorithm" so that it shows us more of our publications. If you want to learn more about working better based on each algorithm, read our complete guide.

Returning to the topic networks forces you to publish constantly, if not, you are a little forgotten by the audience, but you have to be careful with what you publish, or at least delimit who you share it with.

We see this more reflected with influencers who share their lives to a point where their fans know where they live and where they are, and there have been quite uncomfortable cases of harassment for this reason.

Now, as a separate business, there may not be as much need to share so much of your private life since you must know how to separate your professional life from your private life. Additionally, being a business, it is likely that people are not that interested in your personal life unless your brand revolves a lot around you as a person, as is the case with influencers.

Before anything else, make sure that what you publish does not give too many details about your emotional or financial situation or clues about who your closest friends are. Refrain from sharing complicated financial problems or celebrating too much if you are doing well since boasting too much about your success can redirect all eyes toward you.

Enjoy your success, but consciously, do not enter into a show-off culture.

Use Multifactor Authentication

If they jump one fence, put the other two so they get it harder. As hackers can ultimately find a way through your cybersecurity measures, you must safeguard your profiles by adding two or more factors to log in to your social platforms. You can add a fingerprint, facial scan, or a one-time passcode to make your accounts safer.

Only Authorize Known Third-Party Tools 

In our blogs, we always recommend automation as the best option to streamline your workflow. Even so, many apps like Hootsuite need your access to achieve their function. Even so, you have to be careful with what type of applications you accept the terms and conditions of since you can expose your networks to thieves who manage them. Given this "distrust," it is always good to keep an eye on those third-party apps you no longer use and find the right page to remove them.

Final Thoughts.

Cybersecurity is a critical issue for every online business since the more you increase in economic profits with your businesses, the more you can be prey for cybercriminals.

Fear and hiding are not the most optimal responses to these possible dangers. However, it is much better to constantly inform yourself about the best methods to protect your digital assets.

Be careful what type of information you share on networks, and make sure that when you do it, it is with applications or people that your entire company highly trusts.

If you need more advice on managing your online business, at Codedesign, we have a team of professionals who will attend to your case according to its particular characteristics. Contact us.

FAQS - Frequently Asked Questions 

What makes social media platforms a risk for cyber threats?

Social media platforms, with their vast user bases and the wealth of personal information available, present a lucrative target for cybercriminals. These platforms inherently encourage the sharing of personal and business information, which, when not properly protected, can be exploited. Cyber threats are further compounded by the sophisticated algorithms of social media that can inadvertently aid in profiling targets for phishing attacks or social engineering tactics. Moreover, the interactive nature of these platforms allows for the rapid spread of malicious content or links, often before such threats are detected and neutralized.

How do cybercriminals use social media to target businesses and individuals?

Cybercriminals exploit social media to target businesses and individuals through various sophisticated techniques. Phishing attacks, where users are tricked into providing sensitive information, are particularly common. Attackers also use social engineering tactics, leveraging information found on social media to craft highly personalized and convincing scams. Furthermore, cybercriminals can create fake profiles to infiltrate networks, spreading malware or spying on user activities to gather data for future attacks. Notably, businesses with a large social media presence, such as those we've collaborated with at Codedesign, are particularly attractive targets due to their extensive digital footprint.

What are some common cyber attack methods used on social media?

Common cyber attack methods on social media include phishing, where users are misled into clicking on harmful links or divulging confidential information; malware distribution, often through seemingly innocuous links or attachments; and identity theft, with attackers creating fake profiles using stolen personal information. Social engineering tactics are also prevalent, manipulating users into unknowingly compromising their own or their company's security. These methods exploit the social trust and connectivity inherent in these platforms, turning their greatest strengths into vulnerabilities.

How can oversharing on social media platforms jeopardize your business's security?

Oversharing on social media platforms can severely jeopardize a business's security by exposing sensitive information that cybercriminals can exploit. For instance, sharing details about internal processes, employee information, or upcoming projects can provide attackers with the insights needed to craft targeted phishing attacks or social engineering schemes. Furthermore, revealing too much about company technologies or security practices can inadvertently guide cybercriminals in identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities. In our experience at Codedesign, maintaining a balance between engaging online content and operational security is crucial for safeguarding business assets.

Why is it important to protect devices used for accessing social media?

Protecting devices used for accessing social media is vital because these devices contain apps and browsers that store sensitive information, such as passwords, personal data, and access to business networks. If compromised, cybercriminals can exploit this access to launch further attacks, steal data, or even take control of social media accounts to spread malicious content. Effective device protection measures, including regular software updates, antivirus software, and secure authentication methods, are essential defenses against such vulnerabilities.

How do data aggregation and quizzes on social media pose a risk to personal data security?

Data aggregation and quizzes on social media can pose significant risks to personal data security by collecting vast amounts of personal information under the guise of entertainment or personalization. This information can be used to profile users for targeted phishing attacks or identity theft. Moreover, the aggregated data, often shared with third parties, increases the risk of data breaches, exposing personal information to cybercriminals. It's crucial for users to be discerning about the information they share and to review the data privacy practices of these applications.

What steps can businesses take to protect their data on social media?

Businesses can protect their data on social media by implementing comprehensive social media policies that outline acceptable use and content sharing guidelines for employees. Regular training on cybersecurity best practices and awareness of the latest cyber threats is essential. Additionally, businesses should employ strong access controls, including the use of multifactor authentication and regular password updates. Monitoring social media accounts for unusual activity and employing tools for detecting and mitigating threats can further enhance security. At Codedesign, we advise our clients to collaborate closely with their IT security teams to ensure these measures are effectively integrated into their digital strategy.

How effective are strong passwords and privacy settings in safeguarding social media accounts?

Strong passwords and privacy settings are highly effective first lines of defense in safeguarding social media accounts. Strong, unique passwords can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access, while comprehensive privacy settings can help control who sees and interacts with your content, reducing exposure to potential cyber threats. However, these measures should be part of a broader security strategy that includes awareness of phishing tactics, secure network connections, and regular monitoring for suspicious activity.

What is multifactor authentication and how does it enhance social media security?

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security mechanism that requires users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to an account, beyond just a password. This can include something you know (a password or answer to a security question), something you have (a mobile device or security token), or something you are (biometric verification like a fingerprint or facial recognition). MFA significantly enhances social media security by adding an additional layer of defense against unauthorized access, making it much more difficult for attackers to compromise accounts even if they obtain the password.

How should businesses and individuals handle third-party app permissions on social media platforms?

Businesses and individuals should handle third-party app permissions on social media platforms with caution. It's essential to regularly review and understand the permissions granted to each app, ensuring they are necessary for the app's function and do not overly expose personal or business data. Revoking unnecessary permissions and regularly auditing connected apps can prevent data leaks and reduce the risk of compromising sensitive information. Additionally, being wary of granting permissions to unknown or untrusted applications is crucial for maintaining the integrity and security of social media accounts.

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