Social networks pose new cybersecurity threats

Though some information technology professionals may think that hackers tend to hide and keep to themselves before they decide to pounce, this does not seem to be the case. In fact, many security threats may be posed to those openly using social media sites.

Social networks have attracted the public’s eye as the controversial practice of catfishing – when users assume false online identities to trick others into forming some sort of emotional bond with them – has become increasingly popular. However, chief information officers should keep in mind that these channels have allowed some individuals to employ this same tactic to gain access to companies’ private IT networks.

Hackers hone in on human vulnerability
CIOs and IT professionals are only human. No one is perfect, and individuals can be susceptible to being tricked. According to IT Business Edge, hackers have taken notice of human weaknesses and have decided to take advantage of them as a means of preying on IT executives.

Recent stories have come out, relaying information about security breaches stemming from social media. In one such case, a team of IT professionals decided to test out human resistance to hacking with an experiment.

These makeshift hackers opted to test the trust of government tech workers, creating a fake profile on a site so that they could gain access to an agency’s network. The profile that they used made it seem as if the hackers were an attractive female. A significant proportion of the agency’s IT department accepted connection requests sent from this account.

After they managed to befriend the majority of the institution’s tech employees, the hackers sent a Christmas e-card containing a virus, which these staff members opened. This allowed them to gain instant access to the agency’s confidential network.

Stay suspicious
This is only one of numerous situations in which hackers managed to tap into social media channels, pose as different users and trick even the most intelligent of IT professionals. CIOs need to be mindful of this emerging trend, making sure to drill the importance of skepticism on social media sites into the minds of their staff members.

PCWorld explained that, in general, phishing is more intricate, thanks to social media channels. In the past, hackers used email traps to convince users to provide them with personal information. The public, however, has caught on to this practice and are not buying into it as frequently as they did in years prior. For this reason, those trying to infiltrate protected data networks have decided to up the ante when it comes to their efforts.

Most recently, phishing has become more social, as hackers have used bogus accounts on a variety of online outlets to obtain confidential company information. Mainly, individuals trying to access secure networks have used Web-based channels to form connections with IT professionals, collecting all of their personal and employment information to the help them in their scamming ventures.

With more data compiled about tech staff members, the easier it has become for phishers to send out viruses to a variety of points of contact. Additionally, by featuring more personalized insight throughout their messages to It professionals, hackers can better disguise their scams. This will make them seem more legitimate, which will make recipients more inclined to divulge critical, confidential information.

Luckily, CIOs can thwart these attack efforts by vigilantly keeping their team members informed about cyberthreats and the measures needed to be taken to ensure network protection. By continuously reinforcing proper security strategies and calling for employees to keep a watchful eye out for potential breaches, IT executives can decrease the likelihood of hackers successfully gaining access to their data through social media means.

Integrity is in your control
While personally ensuring that their tech departments are being careful in terms of their social media use is a relatively easy task, CIOs may find that there are some aspects of cybersecurity that are out of their control. RT reported that there is a growing trend in hackers producing viruses that will boost the number of “Likes,” friends and followers on some of the most popular social media sites.

Nowadays, these online channels serve as a vital tool to help improve a brand’s image. The more favorable interaction that consumers have with a business’ page, the more likely other audiences are to try out its products. With this kind of power, some companies would do almost anything to drive up their likeability on social media sites – even if that means having hackers infiltrate these networks to manipulate their interaction statistics.

For many companies, this has become a concern in terms of how they can face their competition. Even though some of their industry rivals may be resorting to such dishonest tactics, CIOs should be certain to maintain a level of integrity throughout their IT departments by choosing not to partake in this kind of activity. Especially as social media sites start to crack down on hackers, being caught could be a major blow to IT executives’ reputations. is your place on the web for intelligent, issue driven content that helps you develop practical IT solutions and strategy.