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Cyber security awareness: Facing 21st-century cyber risks on social media

SafeStack mascots Riley and Mal facing each other over laptops with social media icons

We’re excited to announce the newest short course in our Security Awareness program. This course examines how cyber safety on social media is evolving and what actions we can take to protect ourselves and our organizations.

Over time, social media platforms and their users have become more informed about how cyber attackers use social media to perpetrate various scams and attacks. However, never ones to be left far behind, cyber attackers have continued to up their game.

In a never-ending game of cat-and-mouse, the increase in sophistication and risk-awareness levels of social media users is matched by the evolution of social media cyber attacks and risks. We need training to keep one step ahead of them.

In many organizations, underpinning their culture of cyber security awareness is a regime of ongoing awareness and compliance training.  With up-to-date, relevant security awareness training, all team members, regardless of position or role, form part of the line of defense against cyber attacks. Investing in avoiding attacks is wiser and less costly than handling the clean-up and fall-out after one.

The social scams of yesteryear

It’s often said that life can only be understood looking backward, but it must be lived forwards. With hindsight, one can almost smile at the clunky and somewhat obvious initial attempts at cyber scams on social media circa the mid-2000s. Closely aligned with the arrival of platforms like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, cyber criminals were quick to try and exploit the new social network landscape.   

This wave of initial social media cyber attacks shared many similar traits with the email scams of yesteryear. Attackers quickly expanded their territory into social media platforms.

Soon, social media was awash with messages and posts promising everlasting romance (at a price, of course), lucky lottery wins, and massive inheritances from long-lost relatives in far-flung countries across the globe.

Fortunately, social media platforms got better at stopping these types of attackers in their tracks and began removing fake accounts before they even had a chance to get started. Users also wised up to their devious games. Cyber attackers need to evolve the sophistication level of their attacks to overcome these new hurdles. 

Still intent on making crime pay, cyber criminals never give up. They’ve continued to adapt and evolve, raising the bar on social media cyber attacks to a new level. 

The most significant social media cyber security risks now extend to more complex entities than individual cyber criminals trying to exploit social media users and posted information. Treacherous competitors, disgruntled previous employees, state actors, and social botnets are some of the more severe risks that keep business leaders awake at night. And yes, those pesky rogue cyber criminals are still snooping around for information that may benefit them and cause damage to you and your business.

Current social media threats

Social media usage is thoroughly woven into modern daily life and routines. Staying in touch with friends, networking with colleagues, researching products and services, shopping, gaming, or just doom-scrolling on the commute home – we use social media for personal and professional use, but are we always considering the risks? 

Our usage and reliance on social media continue to increase. Correspondingly, levels of sophistication of phishing and other cyber attacks happening on these platforms are also growing. Awareness of these evolving risks and attack methods is key to avoiding falling into their traps.

Many companies have already responded by introducing social media policies, procedures, and training to educate people and reduce the risk and impact of incidents related to these platforms.

It’s also surprising to note that some of the most damaging social media security incidents are often not instigated by cyber criminals — but rather by employees. These situations can happen either maliciously or unintentionally. Even the most well-meaning employee can cause significant damage by posting carelessly or unadvisedly on social media.

We can group risks associated with social media into the following categories:

  • Reputational: risks associated with your business and brand’s reputation online.
  • Information security: risks related to the exposure of non-public information.
  • Regulatory: risks that carry with them regulatory consequences.
  • Operational: risks that can impact how your business operates.

We address each risk category in our course Staying Safe on Social Media, in a way that is easy to understand by both employees and employers. Your team will get practice at identifying social media posts that could negatively impact a business.   

SafeStack mascot Riley looking at smartphone

Our course highlights and educates people on identifying and dealing with potential malware, social engineering, and cyber criminal reconnaissance. We provide practical guidance and some quick assessments to make sure everyone comes away with a solid understanding of each risk.

Staying Safe on Social Media

The next course in our Security Awareness program is about staying safe on social media. Social networking is a powerful tool for businesses and our personal lives. However, social media is also an attractive environment for cyber criminals to gather information on potential targets and distribute malware.

We focus on teaching people to think critically about posts they read on social media and before making a post on social media. We also cover some general actions that can help you protect your accounts and devices from cyber attacks. 

This course also contains practical lessons on how to mitigate these risks that you and your employees can take back to their desks, including:

  • Protecting your devices
  • Protecting your accounts
  • Correctly restricting account and information sharing settings.

Help your people build their cyber security superpowers

SafeStack’s Security Awareness training can help your team be more prepared to deal with potential attacks and better understand the risks associated with social media. Let SafeStack help your organization stay safe online. Speak with us today about our Security Awareness course catalog and upcoming releases.

Try it yourself

Sign up for our SafeStack Security Awareness training today, or take it for a spin with a free 14-day trial

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