Why are you so popular?
In today’s digital landscape, the internet is rife with various scams, and social media has become a hotbed for social engineering attacks. According to Statista, there are 2.34 billion social media users worldwide, and cybercriminals are using this enormous audience to carry out their deceptive schemes by using fake accounts as their main tool. According to Forbes, over half a billion fake social media profiles are currently in circulation, posing significant risks to users. Here are the four main ways these cybercriminals are exploiting social media through social engineering:
Swaying Public Opinion
One prominent example of using fake accounts to sway public opinion was observed during the 2016 election, when millions of fake Facebook accounts were discovered, alongside deceptive ads aimed at influencing American voters. These ads and posts, while appearing legitimate, were cleverly designed to create influence with minimal effort. Additionally, these malicious campaigns often resulted in infecting users’ computers with malware to extract valuable personal information.
Scammers employ pages that falsely claim to offer enticing prizes or giveaways from renowned celebrities or brands. The fraudsters hide behind names that closely resemble authentic ones and rely on unsuspecting individuals to click, share, and like their posts. Subsequently, they sell the harvested information to third parties or employ malware-infected advertising to lure users back for more.
Minimally Invested Profiles (MIPs)
Cybercriminals create MIPs in large quantities, featuring limited original content and provocative profile photos. These fake profiles send friend requests randomly, hoping to intrigue potential targets into adding them. Once accepted, they proceed to send malware-laden messages through platforms like Facebook Messenger or post rogue content on victims’ walls.
Fully Invested Profiles (FIPs)
FIPs require more effort to create but are more deceptive, closely resembling genuine acquaintances. To unmask such profiles, users should scrutinize their friends’ lists, check for duplicates, and carefully review the content of their posts. These scammers typically target users on Messenger with infected content, often using enticing videos to lure recipients into engaging with the sender.
These are just a few examples of the methods social engineers employ to exploit social media and deceive users. As you browse through your social media feeds or interact with others online, it is essential to stay vigilant and be aware of your surroundings. Maintaining a robust firewall and using reliable antivirus software are crucial steps to defend against these manipulative tactics and safeguard your valuable information. Be proactive in protecting yourself from social engineering scams and ensure that you remain a step ahead of cybercriminals while enjoying the benefits of social media responsibly.