In the previous decade, technology has allowed everyone to experience its pinnacle. The primary goal of social media platforms is to bring individuals and institutions together. The basic objective of social networking sites is to connect people and organisations. Cyber-attacks have become more common in the last decade, portraying a real and present danger to the virtual environment. The vast chunk of users are unaware of the dangers and their absence of information leads to a rise in cyber-crime is a significant concern. Even though social media networks have privacy controls, individuals having malicious intent nevertheless discover a means to obtain critical data. As a result, we should comprehend social media data security, which has a huge influence on how social media platforms are being used. Thus, these things clearly state that everyone must be concerned about social media security.
CHANGES SOCIAL MEDIA BROUGHT IN PEOPLE’S LIVES
Social media’s growth has ushered in a new era of socialisation. It seems to be an integral aspect of our social lives, allowing us to interact with peers, relatives, coworkers, and others. We’ve seen how social media sites like WhatsApp, Instagram and other messenger services revolutionised the way users use the internet for both individual and business purposes. As thousands of users are getting digital daily, social media has proven to become a terrific method to engage with individuals all around the globe. The bulk of contemporary attacks merely employs social media sites as a means of distribution. Modern social media threats will be free to hold advantage of a user’s relationships, geolocation, and even commercial activity. This data can subsequently be used to create specialized marketing strategies for certain users, and to aid in the instigation of crimes in the digital or social realm. The most common way for social media platform assaults to compromise users’ profiles is to obtain their secret keys when they log in. This data is then utilised to collect private information from users’ virtual colleagues in an unobtrusive manner. Specific user attentiveness and organisational regulations are the greatest strategies to assure privacy compromises are prevented on social networking platforms, protecting personal information, and securing corporation information.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND CYBER SECURITY ISSUES
The cybersecurity threat that online networking use brings is indeed a huge problem that is frequently misunderstood or perhaps ignored. This danger isn’t limited to people; as an entrepreneur, one’s workers’ social networking habits could put his company at stake. Since numerous individuals share their private content across multiple social media networking sites, it might be simple to initiate an assault. Hackers can readily gather this information and exploit it to their advantage. There are several issues associated with the use of social media networking sites which are as follows:
- Malware: Viruses frequently enter the software program via bothersome advertisements. After obtaining access to the system, the hacker grabs sensitive information or leads the computing system to crash, and even hackers might use spam emails for the theft of personal information.
- Phishing: Attackers have gotten extremely adept at impersonating legitimate web pages, especially social media platforms. Whenever any social media user receives a security caution or any kind of warning regarding any kind of attack on the profile, the content must be double-checked and we should never engage in anything sent via mail. Instead of just naively following such messages or links, one should prefer to go directly to the origin and verify credentials there as hackers also send spam emails to conceal or steal the personal data of the user.
- Data Privacy: Social Media users disclose their personal information on social networking sites, which can lead to confidentiality breaches if privacy steps are not taken. Such actions of the users make the work of hackers too easy, they easily take and use all the data collected. This all may also lead to data mining.
- Other Issues: The current use of social media websites by all the youngsters and others leads to so many problems related to the security of their devices plus their own. Concealing someone’s personal information can also even lead to legal issues. Even someone can track the movement of users due to the oversharing of their information regarding their location and else. Forgery, web jacking, child pornography, sale of an illegal article, trafficking, and online gambling are some other issues associated with the use of digital platforms.
RISKS CAUSED BY SOCIAL MEDIA
As more and more people are indulging in the use of digital platforms these days, the risks associated with it are also increasing. Social Media use in a neglecting way may cause certain risks which might be identity theft, cyberwarfare, email spoofing, fraud, cyberstalking, cyber defamation or cyberbullying. When we share our sensitive information on social media platforms then this data can be misinterpreted by someone and could also be used to blackmail in one way or another. The consequences of any of these acts might also be severe or mild too. Some risks associated with the use of social media platforms are as follows:
- Cyber Terrorism: Cyber methods are used by criminal organizations and terrorist groups for hiring, coaching, and funding unlawful things. Online rings such as drug mafias, arms deals, and trafficking are common, and profound frauds and personal photos and equipment have recently been formed for fraud. Sharing of sensitive information by users on social media platforms makes their work easy.
- Cyberbullying: Bullying that occurs via the internet is referred to as cyberbullying. It can occur on social media and gaming platforms, chat networks, and other venues. Its goal is to terrify, shame, or aggravate the intended target.
- Cyber Stalking: Cyberstalking is when someone uses electronic or digital means to harass or stalk a victim, such as social media, email, instant messaging (IM), or messages posted to a discussion group or forum.
SAFETY MEASURES AND THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
While using these social media websites one needs to take care of some essential measures which could help them in securing themselves and their devices. Thus, some steps which are required to be taken are as follows:
- Always stay conscious while logging in to the community digital devices or using WiFi of the other users as such kind of negligence may lead to the concealment of your personal information.
- By using some kind of bookmarks we can check the authenticity of the website we use to visit frequently and this would also help to prevent the viruses from entering your devices by not visiting some inappropriate web pages.
- We should always use strong passwords while connecting to any kind of social media website or any application such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. This would help us to at least secure our data to some extent. Also, the passwords of any of our social media accounts should not be shared with anyone else.
- One should attentively consider the privacy policies of every webpage. So that we may stay aware of whatsoever information we share on that particular site.
- Always stay cautious regarding fraudulent emails and messages.
- Try to always use websites with strong and protected URL codes.
- One should avoid as much as he can to share personal and sensitive information on social media platforms openly.
- Some further concerns are to be made regarding our safety and security in the digital world and along with all these things one should always be aware of what kind of people we are connecting with through these social media platforms.
Everyone is today well aware of the change brought out by the digital world. More and more individuals indulging in the use of digital devices and working through online platforms have made a lot of things very much easier than before. But there are various side effects of overusing or using social media platforms in a neglecting way. This may lead to various dangerous consequences if used in any kind of misleading way. And these social media platforms are becoming the main point of vulnerability of the users and the main focus of the cyber-attacks including so many grave crimes such as prostitution, cyberbullying, etc. Comprehensive collaboration is required and major steps are required to be taken by the government to make strong policies regarding the safety of the general public while using social media sites. More and more awareness should be created among the peers regarding the prevailing cybercrimes and the steps required to be taken to deal with them. Strong and effective policies should be implemented on an urgent basis.
Author(s) Name: Abjot Kaur Punjab School of Law, Punjabi University, Patiala)
Rahul Awati ‘What is Cyber Stalking?’ (tech target.com, 05 Aug 2021) <https://www.techtarget.com/contributor/Rahul-Awati > accessed on 17/04/2022