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Dark Social: How Cyber Criminals use Social Media to Target Businesses

If you think about it – it’s silly how willing most of us are to post key details of our everyday lives on social media platforms.

Regarding cybersecurity defenses, social media posts can pose a big potential vulnerability. People are voluntarily posting personal information on public social media platforms, creating the perfect situation for a social engineering attack or account takeover.

With this in mind, we need to reconsider what we are posting online and making available on our social media feeds.

There are many ways threat actors can take advantage of social media sites. Here are some of the ways:

Targeting the Social Media User Directly

When it comes to social media attacks, many social networking sites have made decent progress when it comes to protecting against unauthorized access. Many have adopted security tools like two-factor authentication, which at least provide an additional layer of security that protects from some of the more common points of failure.

This does not mean, however, that users have protected themselves completely from social media attacks. Social media credentials are often leaked in account dumps, and we have seen services offered in dark web forums for bypassing 2FA. Sometimes there are loopholes in 2fa systems that allow attackers to gain unauthorized access with a bit of finesse.

Checkers and Brute-force tools are also tools that are commonly sold on dark web and cyber criminal forums. These tools attempt to login to websites using stolen credentials to check if they are still valid. If successful, attackers often use this information to check other accounts and gain access to more and more sensitive data.

Using a Social Media Platform to Facilitate Attacks

If you are one of the millions of cybercriminals targeting unsuspecting victims for sensitive information, then you know that the best way to distribute malware is to cast a wide net. With this in mind, social media platforms are a great place to launch phishing attacks.

One way bad actors do this is through automated bots or personas. These automated tools leave spam comments on Twitter accounts and public pages promoting scam links and web pages that lead to malicious content.

Some attackers bring social engineering skills into play. For instance, rather than taking an automated approach, a scammer might target a victim, observe that they are interested in sneakers, and leave a comment offering “free shoes” which leads to a phishing page.

In other cases, bad actors may even use social media to outright impersonate other users. Some of these scams can actually be pretty effective – We have begun to see fake profiles of celebrities in various cryptocurrency-related scams.

Using Social Media Sites for Social Engineering Tactics

When it comes to pulling off a targeted social engineering attack – the most important stage is research. After all, the threat actor must have a solid understanding of the organization they are targeting if they want to craft convincing phishing messages.

Unfortunately for us these days, the proliferation of social media has made it a goldmine for cyber criminals conducting research.

For example – let’s say a bad actor has decided to target an organization and steal their confidential information. In today’s day and age, it is astonishingly easy to then go online and figure out which potential employees to target.

With just a name and a profile on Linkedin, you can also find their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, which often provide further information like hobbies, family members, and geo-location details.

These are all personal details that could be used to launch a spear phishing attack. In more unfortunate cases it may even potentially give answers to security questions – “What was the name of your elementary school?”.

Protect your Private Information with Stratejm

We get it.

Keeping up with the threat landscape these days is a headache.

It seems like every other week there is news about a big data breach or cybersecurity attack that brings a large company to its knees. Threat actors are gaining access to advanced new tools and competent security professionals are few and far between.

Thankfully – there is always the option to offload your security to a third-party security provider like Stratejm, who have been securing complex network environments for some of North America’s leading enterprises for more than 7 years.

Contact us today to learn more