What began as a method for convenient social interaction has metamorphosed into a potent online tool. Yes, the point of this discussion here is social media platforms that are now being extensively used to assess people for a number of reasons—a job offer, matrimonial, visa, and so forth.
The phenomenal success of social media platforms has translated into millions of people logging in to their accounts every day. And wherever there is a crowd of people online, cyber criminals are not far behind. These criminals steal verified personal information and use them for numerous types of crimes—both online and offline.
For instance, you have an online profile with your phone number, email ID, residential address, date of birth, hobbies, links to profiles of family members and relatives, and a host of other personal details. One fine day, you are holidaying in a far off exotic locale and post happy pictures of you and the family having fun together. A criminal who’s noted all these details finds your absence an opportune moment to rob your house.
Another potentially more dangerous instance is when people post pictures of their young kids online—the first day at school, fancy dress at school, and so forth—while tagging the school. A criminal picks up the child’s picture, knows the school, and takes advantage of all the little details posted to build together a story and entice the child to abduct her.
The crimes are not just restricted to the offline world. Social media is infested with rogues who can post fake ads enticing people to buy expensive goods at ridiculously low prices. When you click that in-your-face flashy banner, you are taken to a payment page, which will usually not have the option to pay on delivery. You will need to make a bank transfer so you can be sure that the stocks don’t run out and you don’t miss out on the ‘limited period’ offer. Once you’ve made the payment, neither the offer remains nor you get the goods. The only thing you are left with is loss of your money.
Alternatively, the page you are redirected to may be a trap to phish out your personal details. You may be prompted to enter your credit card details, residential address for ‘delivery’, phone number, and sundry other details that are used to commit financial crimes.
One of the most dangerous forms of crimes is when cyber criminals take over and control your account remotely. Your account can then be used to send spam and malicious content that can tarnish your image. It can be used as a front for other criminal activities like the drug trade, honey trap, and so forth. All these activities can be dangerous, especially, if you are a public figure. Even if you are not a public figure, it can cause you a lot of headache as you may be held responsible for all the illegal activity. You may then have to spend a lot of time and resources trying to prove your innocence.
Small Doesn’t Mean Safe
With a couple of hundred followers, you may consider your social media account too small to attract a criminal’s attention. You couldn’t be more wrong here. Even with a handful of followers, your account provides access to a large treasure chest of authentic personal details that can help criminals maximize their exploits.
The article has been written by Neetu Katyal, Content and Marketing Consultant
She can be reached on LinkedIn.