Cyber crime gets slicker and creepier

Social media has become a prankster’s heaven, and worse, a predator’s laboratory. Unless you have been a victim of cyber stalking you might not realize the potency of psychological harm and real life danger it possesses.

Social media has allowed millions in our country to have a voice, set trends in fashion, argue government choices, and state their opinions without fear. Many stories about cyberstalking and cyber crime have been sensationalized,  somehow creating a flimsy plastic between us and the possible crimes and threats that can attack us with a few clicks on our computers.

Identity theft and hacking are realities more people have been exposed to. In your immediate social circle, chances are you know at least one person whose Facebook account got hacked, or a friend who cannot access her email anymore.

The less fortunate friends might have been victims of identity theft that left them with credit card bills or had their credentials and qualifications used by frauds in other cities. Given the expansiveness  of the internet and scalable anonymity, it’s incredibly important to be aware of few facts around cyber crime that will make you a safer and more informed cyber citizen.

Cyber Wars

Don’t take the term lightly. Cyber wars are moving from spam emails and creeping into social media spaces with precise strategy, slick hacking skills and new ways to prey on your vulnerabilities.

Spear Fishing is the easiest way people target individuals. Put together a few identity details, (easy as 1-2-3, if you have a FB page that pops up in a search) they can email you with a personal greeting and even a reference to something you recently did or bought (hello public FB profile or Tweet!). The chances are, a couple people for every 1000 will bite. That results in them using your information to crack bank details and hack into your computer.

What’s scarier is that small businesses  are at the highest risk at being phished.  30% of small businesses were attacked in 2013, carding to a report by Symantec. So keep an eye out for social media contact that uses familiarity to lull you into a sense of trust. If you can’t recall “Bobby” immediately, chances are Bobby is a virus about to leak your personal details out to the big bad world.

Creativity and Patience can make up for Tech Savvy Skills

When it comes to cyber hackers and coding wizards we conjure images of slick, socially-awkward geniuses sitting by their computers, and getting various calls from important CEO’s. Today, social media is offering other ways to trick people. Now, creativity and patience and just a couple of computer skills can do considerable damage.

In 2011 Iranian threat actors created panic and chaos by letting loose a layered social media espionage. iSIGHT Partners ( a cyber intelligence firm) called it NEWSCASTER and said “it was a brazen, complex multi-year cyber-espionage that used a low-tech approach to avoid traditional security defenses­–exploiting social media and people who are often the ‘weakest link’ in the security chain.”  Supported by a fake news company called News On Air, they successfully victimised over 2000 people and had got hold of heaps of confidential information. Their platforms of choice to felicitate this? Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Blogger, and Linkedin- using creative ways to engage people on these vulnerable platform proves that snakes in the garden can be pretty successful .

Easy ones to spot are bizarre articles that don’t seem like they could be true,  but the average curiosity levels of a person compels them to “like it” in order to read it. Congratulations, you have just been LikeJacked and you now have some malware installed in your computer. And once we get too smart for these, there will be newer trends in cyber crimes.

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