5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Phishing on Social Media

By on June 20, 2019

Social media platforms are great, people can meet other people there, get news there and share content with each other. Some platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have millions and millions of users from all around the globe and you too probably have at least one account on a certain social media platform.

However, even though these platforms can be put to good use, many people often misuse them. To be precise, there are those individuals online who are looking to harm or steal something from other users. One popular way to do so is phishing.

Phishing is the practice of luring a user to click on links that install malware on their devices or start executable codes which can do a lot of damage. Phishing is used for data theft, virus infection, and identity theft.

So, let’s take a look at five ways you can protect yourself from this scam while enjoying social media.

Suspicious bots

Whenever you receive a message that looks suspicious with weird links, delete them. There are numerous bot accounts on every platform. For example, there are dozens of bot accounts on Instagram where you get a message with a link to see someone’s explicit photos or similar content.

Legitimate and honest content is never promoted that way. When you constantly get messages and the way that ‘someone’ has approached you is aggressive, rest assured that it is a scam.

In order to spot bot accounts easily, look for signs in the username. They usually have a lot of random numbers or incredibly generic names (John Smith, for example). Also, if you can access their profiles, you will see that they repeatedly post the same things such as items from online stores or material that isn’t available for preview.

Suspicious download links

Whenever you see a page or a profile on social media where you are invited to download something that is usually not free, be extra cautious. Those links can usually lead to suspicious websites that will swamp your device with malware and other viruses.

For example, back in the day, Facebook used to have a lot of pages that offered ‘links’ to free movies. Those movies were, of course, only the best and the most popular movies at the time. Once a person downloads and runs the file, the chaos begins.

The goal here was to spread that virus which sets an executable code in motion and creates chaos on your profile. Do not fall for that. Turn to reliable websites and paid content. Nothing in this world is free, remember that. So, whenever you want to download or send large files, turn to proven torrent sites or streaming websites such as HBO or Netflix.

If you see a page that offers the best video games through ‘torrents’ you need to download in order to get them, leave, delete the message, unlike the page.

Fake news

Social media con artists often create divisive political content to anger voters and spread lies. You’ve probably heard of numerous ‘fake news’ scandals that affected elections all over the world.

Avoid ‘fake news’ or news of dubious accuracy. Refrain from clicking on ‘click bait’ articles posted by suspicious accounts or media outlets online. Be smart, always look for veritable sources and compare news articles to the same pieces written by other media.

Do not repost misinformation! Double check it for accuracy even if it seems true. This is one of the easiest ways to become a victim online, do not fall for fake news!

Shady ads

If you have a Facebook accounts, you’ve probably stumbled upon dozens of ads so far. It is the way Facebook generates revenue – they run ads. That is perfectly normal.

However, always try to determine the motivations behind ads. You can use the platform’s ‘Info and Ads’ whenever you see a suspicious ad on Facebook that deals with politics. These ads seem sensational and claim to have viewer-sensitive content.

It’s similar to fake news but more obvious. Phishing attempts usually come from these types of accounts.

Install antivirus software

This is the most obvious option from the list. You most likely have this kind of software running but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless.

Find good antivirus software that can also protect you while you are online from malware. The protection needs to be wholesome, you should stay safe both online and offline.

Many good antivirus programs warn you whenever you download a shady link or try to access a suspicious website. Some even won’t let you do that without asking you for permission. There is a good reason for that.

Final thoughts

Social media have never been more popular. That is why these platforms often end up being a target of hackers.

Seeing that you probably visit them on a daily basis, you need to do everything in your power to stay safe while enjoying them.

About Sean Lockwood

I'm IT expert with years of experience. I cover all aspects of IT like programming, photoshopping and moving effects. I've spent some time in the field of security and I'm still helping other companies with the same. In my free time, I love to enjoy my extreme sports blog and my German Shepherd dog.
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