How to Protect Yourself from Social Media Malware
I am delighted that TECHIGYAAN has given me the opportunity to share my article with their readers. Their site is a wonderful resource for anyone in need of tech-related tips and tutorials. Being that we are on the topic of malware, I would recommend that you check out TECHIGYAAN’s tutorial describing how you can remove malware from your PC or Mac so that if you do end up a victim of one of these malicious attacks, you will know what to do. Also I know many of you will be WordPress users in which case you should read the 7 best security plugins for WordPress.
Due to the extreme popularity of social media sites, hackers are realizing that it’s a good place to target their victims. It’s not unusual for someone to click on a link that one of their friends has posted online, and with the frequency of social media users posting links and sharing their experiences, it can be hard to tell the legitimate posts from the malicious ones. The problem with that is of course that it’s also somewhat easy to become a victim of social media malware, possibly even more so than malware that might be lurking elsewhere.
Now for the good news: you can prevent hackers from getting into your device, as well as prevent malware, even when it is well disguised on social media sites. Preventing it is actually just about as easy as it is to actually acquire the malware in the first place. Here’s how you can do it.
Pay Attention to the Details
Though it can be hard to tell the legitimate posts from the malicious ones, there are a few things to look out for. For starters, is the post written in the same writing style as the person would usually use? And does it sound like something they would typically post about?
Posts that usually contain malware tend to include words such as “Click here to receive…,” “Wow,” “Great deal,” “Free…,” or other words and phrases that might persuade you to click on a hyperlink. Most of the time, when you do click on it, you will be asked to fill out a form with your personal information or download a program in order to access whatever it is the post might have been advertising. Sometimes posts that contain malware will also have tons of people tagged in order to draw attention to it.
Another clue that might tip you off is if they are over-posting the content or acting out of character. Your best bet is to avoid clicking on unfamiliar links altogether, though this isn’t always practical. A simple Google search can sometimes let you know which scams are floating around, so it might be wise to look up whatever the post is advertising (no matter whether it’s a website, product, etc.).
You can also hover your mouse’s cursor over the link to see where it leads. If it’s an unfamiliar URL, it’s best to err on the side of caution when trying to protect your device. However, there are some other ways you can protect your device from malware, which should help if you end up clicking on something you shouldn’t.
Software Can Save You A Lot Of Trouble…
An anti-virus program is a great place to start when you’re trying to fight off malware. You can find one for free, and anyone who uses the internet shouldn’t be without one. Just make sure you remember to run a full virus scan every now and then.
Another useful program that can protect you while you’re online is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). If you’re unfamiliar with what a VPN is, it’s basically a remote server that you connect to, which routes your internet traffic through it. By using one, your internet connection will become encrypted and your IP address masked, making it extremely difficult for hackers to access your device.
To learn more about VPNs and find out how they compare to one another, check out this VPN review.
Sometimes malware on social media sites is spread via fake profiles. Facebook especially has a ton of fake pages and users who tend to be used to spread malware. Even legitimate pages can sometimes share malicious links though, as no one is immune to security threats.
As previously mentioned, this is why it’s important to pay attention to the details. Most of the time, if a page has been hacked, the posts will cover topics different from the page’s typical subject matter. The way the posts are typed might be different as well.
As for fake users, always check to see if the person has any indications on their page that they might be a scammer or hacker. Some clues might be a lack of friends on their friend list, only one or two photos, no or only one or two posts, and overall, a lack of information listed on their profile. This doesn’t always mean that the profile is fake, but in some cases, it can, and these people might actually just be trying to collect personal information from others.
Even with security software installed, it might be wise to take advantage of what browser add-ons have to offer. Mozilla Firefox takes the cake when it comes to having a ton of useful add-ons to choose from. Overall, Firefox offers a really great web browser too, so if you aren’t already using it, it might be time to make the switch.
One of the best add-ons you can have to protect you from malicious sites (such as the ones typically linked in social media posts) is NoScript Security Suite. It blocks malicious scripts that can cause you to acquire malware or steal your information. Though it can be somewhat inconvenient to use at times, it’s very effective.
When you have NoScript Security Suite, you get to choose which scripts to allow (either permanently or temporarily) and which to block. If you accidentally click on a site that contains malware, your device will be protected from it since the scripts will be automatically blocked until you allow them.
Protecting Your Device and Your Information
Malware isn’t the only thing you should be worried about on social media sites. You should also know that your personal information is at stake whenever you use the internet. Sometimes it’s companies who are trying to acquire your information, but it can also be hackers who are looking to commit identity theft or just get a laugh at how they are causing you distress. Some people seriously take joy in this.
Security software and knowing how to spot malicious links can help a lot, but you’ll also need to do your part by thinking twice before you share your personal information. It might seem pretty harmless to share some of your information, but it’s often easy to over-share while on social media sites. Most importantly, avoid giving out any banking details, passwords, addresses, and social security numbers, or anything that could be used against you in any way.