We all spend more and more of our waking lives online. In fact, the world has gone social media crazy. Disagree? Well, could you live without it? Thought not.
TV took 13 years to reach 50 million global users, but Facebook added 200 million in less than a year – in fact if Facebook was a country, it would be the world’s third largest behind India and China. There are 60 million status updates every day on Facebook. YouTube is now the world’s second largest search engine behind Google.
The only problem with living more and more of our lives online is that the cybercriminals are already there – monitoring, infiltrating, scamming. They know there’s lots of money to be made in cyberspace and they’ve grown pretty adept at it – stealing our personal information to sell on underground markets, or to commit ID fraud; or taking control of our PCs and mobiles.
Cyber scammers set up fake accounts
We think we’re pretty social media savvy these days, but a lot of us take risks online that we’d never even dream of taking in the real world. A recent infographic we put together at Trend Micro revealed that the average Twitter user has 126 followers, but that only around 35 per cent are actual people. It’s easy for cyber scammers to set up fake accounts, follow huge numbers of users and then bombard them with posts containing spammy or malicious links.
It’s not just happening on Twitter either. The average Facebook user has 226 friends, 16 of whom they don’t know personally. We can be too quick sometimes to accept friend requests from strangers, unaware that this is in fact a classic ploy for cybercriminals to gain access to your personal information. Once accepted as a friend, they will also be able to post malicious links, or videos and photos hiding dodgy links to your wall, which could land you and your real friends in real trouble if they click on them.
A false sense of security
We all need to think a bit more carefully about what we share and who we share it with online. Social media has a tendency to give us a false sense of security. We think we know our “friends” so we share our personal info, our birthdays, our photos, our holiday plans etc. with them. In fact, it pays to be a bit more circumspect, especially on open channels like Twitter, where anyone can basically follow you and listen in to your conversation.
Revisit those privacy settings, be more discerning with friend requests, and only use individual messaging options for sensitive info.
Our digital lives have become an important part of who we are, but they’re also something we take for granted. If you lost your digital life, how much would you be prepared to pay to get it back? Now imagine how much it’s worth to the cybercriminals…Get a free 6-month copy of Trend Micro Internet Security for Windows or Mac on our Fearless Web Facebook page.
I work for Trend Micro and the opinions expressed here are my own.