Cybersecurity ramping up against social media outlets

As a thought leader in the digital space for veterans, we love keeping up with current trends for veteran interests and the technology sector. Let’s look at what’s new for the week of May 6, 2019.

Cybercriminals moving to social and mobile devices

A new 2019 study, Current State of Cybercrime from RSA Security, finds that fraud attacks on social media increased 43% in 2018. This is an enormous increase compared to more traditional attacks via email and malware. The conclusion is that users themselves need to start taking more thorough preventive precautions on mobile devices and social media applications.

According to a report by CNET, cybercriminals are specifically attacking apps like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. This type of crime is predicted to become higher risk on these platforms because the ease of use and absence of fees. The goal: to acquire and sell stolen identities, social security numbers, and other private information.

Additionally, RSA Security identified an average of 82 rogue apps daily in 2018. A rogue app uses an organization’s brand without permission in an attempt to trick users into providing information to criminals.

With the increase in attacks on our social media platforms it is important to remain vigilant. Remember that no organization should be asking for passwords to your apps for verification or access to your account. Providing these important security measure is a recipe for getting hacked.

Location data up for sale

A whistleblower in the tech and social media industry has pointed out the unwanted selling of location data to third party buyers from applications you currently use. Information is collected via cell phones and can be exploited by criminals who purchase the data.

More than 1,000 apps collect location data and monitory your position when you sign up for use. In some instances, this data is then sold to a third party for profit. Most users do not even realize that this process is happening when they agree to the terms and conditions of the app.

In an attempt to better understand the way information is bought and sold, the whistleblower provided a list of buyers in this system of tracking data. One company promised to track people as often as every seven seconds. Another pledged to deliver people’s locations in “real time.” All groups promised the information of tens of millions of phone users everyday.

Even though there were no names or phone numbers tied to the data, CBS News was able to easily figure out who each phone belonged to. This amount of data made it possible to follow phone users throughout their day and throughout the community.

Unfortunately, there is no federal law prohibiting the tracking of location data, making it perfectly legal for information brokers to collect and sell data. With that being said, your phone is a treasure trove of information and many users do not realize the potential consequences for having this information data mining going on. In many cases, users do not seem concerned.

On most phones, you have a setting that will allow you to see which apps are tracking location data. Use this to customize your own preferences for tracking.

Facebook fine could top $5 billion to FTC

Facebook is under fire again for leaks of tens of millions of users’ information. This comes after a previous offense in which Facebook leaked email passwords and publicly exposed 540 million record about Facebook users on Amazon’s cloud computing service. These actions, plus indiscretions in past years, has generated an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC is currently investigating all of Facebook’s high profile data lapses over the last couple years. The FTC believes Facebook is involved with the data mining firm, Cambridge Analytica, which faced scandal last March.

Protecting your information is more important than ever

As individuals whose personally identifiable information is exchanged frequently for military records, veterans must maintain their diligence in information protection. More and more service members are being exposed to back doors that hackers and scammers can access. Companies claim the best interests of the users are in mind, and generate new privacy policies to help protect their users; however, anecdotal evidence shows that the individual must take ultimate responsibility. It is up to us, the users, to track what we are accessing and which apps we are giving access.

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