Are Social Media Sites Keeping our Information Safe?

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Introduction

Technological advancements have greatly benefited our society. An example of a technological advancement that has benefited many people around the world was the creation of the Internet. The Internet makes it easier to search and look for information.

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It has also allowed for it become easier for people to become interconnected with one another around the world. Social media websites or applications are created to allow users to create and share content or participate in social networking. These websites allow for users to make new people or become reacquainted with family or friends they have not seen in a long time. As great as the internet is there are some negative effects that social media websites have on their users, an example is that being that there are users who catfish other users which means that they create false identities to trick other users. Catsfishers aren’t not the only group of people that social media users should be concerned with rather there are other things on social media sites that should be more concerning to all users.

One group of people they should be concerned with is hackers they are people who use computers to attempt to gain unauthorized access to data, which include social media websites. Users should be concerned with how safe are the social media websites they visit secure, if they are able to adequately protect their information. It will be interesting to find out the different kinds of security methods they use to ensure that their users are safely protected. Finding out whether or not social media websites use differing or similar security methods to keep users safe. If any of these websites prioritize keeping information safe for all the users and what they do if they notice any suspicious activity on their sites. If they offer any information that informs users on the dangers they can possibly face while using their websites. How they report any suspicious user activity and what they can do to make sure that they use the website safely. Keeping users information safe is not only the responsibility of the websites but as well as the responsibility of the user and knowing what they could be to make sure they aren’t vulnerable to any attacks. Users should be aware that there are certain activities that may pop on their screen that they should be precautious and shouldn’t click on everything they see. They should be able to detect any form of phishing website links that may pop up on their page. It is imperative that users know what phishing attacks are. They should know where they have to report any suspicious behavior they see on their screen. They should know how to make sure that they can keep their personal information private.

In order to understand how and why these social media websites get attacked the user should become aware of the different ways they can get harmed. Users should be aware that there are cybercrimes that are punishable with the law. All users should have a basic knowledge in what phishing attacks are and how they can become victims. The things they should keep an eye from to avoid becoming victims. If they do become victims the users should also be aware of how malware may affect their computer device. There was a moment in time when cybercrimes were committed and authorities could not punish these individuals because there weren’t any laws that punished cybercrimes. Although it takes time laws have been created in order to punish these different offenses and they are frequently amended to keep up with technological changes.

Who uses Social Media?

In order to see which groups of people are most vulnerable to cybernetic attacks on these websites we have to found out who uses these sites and why they use it. Finding out this information makes it easier to assess who the targets are and what can be done to protect them. Social media is used by different groups of people some who use it as a means to meet new people, voice their opinion are different subject, staying connected with friends and family or are looking to establish relationship with other users. Social media has the benefit that many people around the world can connect with one another. The invention of the smartphone has given people around the world easier access to the Internet. Which also means that it is easier for them to join social media websites and apps. Currently the major social media websites are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Of course there are many more social media websites but the ones mentioned above are currently the most popular. Social media websites or apps are built with the intention that they are easy to use so different types of people can use it.

Demographics on social media websites vary on the sites they are subscribed to as well as the age group. Duggan and Brenner conducted research in 2012 on the demographics of social media users. Their research concluded that Facebook in that time was the most popular social media site usually used women ages 18-29. Their research also focused on the gender, race, education as well as ethnicity to see what sites are popular for each group. Their research sample included people of differing age, gender, education as well as being conducted in English and Spanish. It is also important to point out that their research was published in 2013 and it is obvious that their findings could possibly be outdated. Of course compared to 2012 more people presently own smartphones or have access to a computer that allows them to use the Internet. It is highly likely that more people use social media sites and the percentage for each website is higher than the numbers given by Duggan and Brenner’s 2012 research. But their research is helpful in the sense that it can be used as an estimate for the amount of people that use social media sites. These are groups of people who may be exposed to vulnerabilities that different websites may or may not have.

Benefits of Social Media

As stated previously a benefit of using social media is that ability to reconnect with family or friends that live far or near the user. There are people who firmly believe that social media is responsible for causing people to be less communicative with one another. Many believe that they are so focused in checking the phones constantly that they have become less concerned with people who are physically with them at the moment. Social media has caused many positive outcomes like the ability to communicate and discuss various topics with people around the world. It permits the user to see the opinions of others and it allows them to see why they think they way they do. People can see how different users around the world are influenced to think the way the do based on where they live.

Social media sites allows for its young users to be able to voice their concerns through their websites. They are able to create awareness on a subject matter that many people didn’t know existed. Through the use of a social media site a person can also be aware of the news that occurs near them or any place around the world. But a problem with this is the possibility that there may be fake news circulating through these websites and how can a user know whether or not what they are reading is factual or not. It’s fantastic that have social media means that there is an easy instant way to communicate with people. Social media can be a great tool if a person has started a new business. It allows for them to promote their business online and depending the website they use it possibly may be free. They are able to find a larger range of consumers who did not know they existed. Not only can they do free self-promoting their business but allows them to see whether or not they are able to provide adequate services or goods for their consumers based on comments they may post. If they have satisfied customers it is highly likely that they will post their delight about the business on their social media accounts.

These websites can also be used as a means of relaxation and enjoyment because some people think that they are fun to use. Using social media can allow the individual to take a break from work. It allows you to be able to see what the users friends are up to without needing to actually communicate with them. Perhaps the user may find it enjoyable to see when their friends comments on their posts. 

Disadvantages of Social Media

There are people that firmly believe that social media has caused more harm than any good for users. As stated previously people believe that social media can be attributed to people becoming less communicative with one another. People have become so addicted and attached to their cell phones they have become less aware what is going on physically around them. There are users who are focused on their online interaction with other users that they have forgotten the importance of making sure they also interact with people. It has become more difficult to interact people because they are focused on their smartphones and are frequently checking it out. Another con of using social media websites is that there is a high probability that the user will have more than one profile on different sites. It’s not uncommon for one person to have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. The problem arises when an individual may become overwhelmed with all the accounts they have to check on. They have to check messages on each social media site. It might be overwhelming for users to try to keep up with everything going on with their pages.

Using social media can also been seen as a distraction and why people tend to procrastinate. People have the need to constantly check their smartphones to see look at their social apps and text messages they receive. People aren’t fully given their attention to a person or to the tasks they need to do. Using these apps can be used to as an excuse to prolong having to fulfill their responsibilities or tasks. Not only does it disrupt a person’s daily routine it can also harm their sleep routine. People have spent hours at a time on these apps. It can also cause a person to be situated in one spot for hours at a time without moving at all. Humans have the basic need to fit in with their peers so they may be pressured to follow the social trends. They think that it is important for them to have a social media website because they everyone else they know has one. Teens and adults have been seen to do whatever they can to fit in with their peers. A negative consequence of this is that we have seen the increase of cyber bullying; which is when people use electronics to a bully a person by sending them threatening or intimidating messages. They also may create posts about an individual where multiple people can start commenting attacking the person. Of course person who is the victim of cyber bullying is high likely to develop stress, anxiety, or depression. In extreme cases there have been people who have been victims of bullying who have committed suicide.

All these previously mentioned disadvantages of using social media are important to be aware of but one other issue that stands out the most would be the privacy issues that come with using social media apps or websites. People should be aware of the possible consequences of using any site. It is possible a person can become a potential victim if they post their geographic location on their social media website. Another case would be if a person decides to post something about their job this can be brought to the attention of their employers and a person can become at risk for getting fired. Sharing personal information on these sites can become a problem when there are people who can use this information against the user. A possible problem a person may face because of over sharing would be they think could inadvertently offend someone or a group of people. Once something is posted it will always stay on the Internet. It should be common knowledge that cybernetic attacks are becoming frequently used by different groups of people around the world. They commit these crimes because it is easy to do. One benefit is that they do not have to leave the comforts of their home to do so. People have become more susceptible to these attacks because they are not aware they should be cautious of what they post. People don’t realize that they expose themselves to become a victim when they carelessly post personal things about themselves on these websites. Without even realizing it people through the use of their social media pages have become victims of cybernetic crimes. As time progresses and the uses of the Internet increase there has been a dramatic increase of cybernetic crimes committed by people around the world.

Cybernetic Crimes

Cybernetic crime is also known as computer crime that refers to any crime that involves a computer and a network. It is an attack on information about individuals, corporations, or governments. Wadha and Arora article A Review on Cyber Crime: Major threats and Solution(2017) goes into detail that there is a broad spectrum on the different types of crimes that can be committed through the use of a computer. On one end of the spectrum of cybernetic crimes people are actively looking for digital information to steal to use against a person or who their own advantage such as stealing someone’s identity. On the other end of the spectrum there are individuals who are actively attempting to disrupt people from using the Internet by creating malware, viruses, or shutting down websites. A Review on Cyber Crime; Major threats and Solution(2017) state that people that are motivated to commit these crimes are computer nerds wanting to have bragging rights that they were able to hack a website. There also business’ that rely on these methods to illegally search what their competitors are doing with their companies. Criminals are also searching for individual’s personal information to sell the information on the black market. They made a valid point that countries now have to worry about terrorists using the Internet to commit cyber strikes. They could possibly hack the government’s top-secret information to use against them.

One of the problems that occur with cyber crimes is the lack of reporting by the victim. Often times these crimes are not reported because the individual hasn’t realized that they have become a victim of a crime. It’s extremely difficult to realize that an individual’s private information has been stolen. Hackers have become resourceful in their methods to steal information without the users finding out. If they do find out they have been a victim to cybercrime sometimes people are unaware where they should report their crime too. Cybercrimes are not like regular crimes the perpetrator can be far or anywhere else around the world. Businesses are targeted not only by their competitors but also by hackers who are trying to steal their customer’s information. Hackers want customer’s personal information and their credit card information. Business sometimes decided not to report these crimes because it is bad for their business of course they don’t want to lose their customers. Their security systems come into scrutiny because one of their main concerns is to make sure that their clients information is stored and safely protected. Failure to report these crimes becomes detrimental because no one knows the accurate numbers of these crimes. If the actually number is higher then the reported how are people supposed to combat these crimes? Criminal justice agencies may not be aware that they should have more personnel looking into these cybercrimes. Reporting crimes can lead to connecting whether or not the same person or groups of people are committing these crimes. It may lead to there apprehension.

Laws on Cybernetic Crimes

Technology is constantly and rapidly changing. Every year people have witnessed how technology changes and helps improve society as a whole. Like everything nothing can or should be considered to exist without any flaws or some kind of disadvantage. In the case of rapid technological change one of the major downsides of these constant changes is whether or not it is possible for the law to keep up these changes. In order for a law to be created it take to be created and to be passed at a legislation level. So it is possible that by the time the law is created it has become outdated. Questions whether or not it’ll ever be possible for laws to keep up with all the changes. The Department of Justice created a template based on their current knowledge of cybernetic crimes that are committed and their possible punishment for committing these crimes. Computer crimes started to become a problem within the nation in the early 1980s so in order to combat the rise of the crimes they created the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). It was also created so the federal government and states could be able to create laws to punish cybercriminals. The CFAA has been revised on multiple occasions in attempts to keep up with the constant change in technology. Eliminating and making sure to expand the statues in hopes to appropriate punish individuals for their crimes. Before then they had no idea on how to deal with the crimes or how they should be prosecuted so there were individuals that went unpunished for their crimes before these laws were created.

Like regular crimes that are committed cybercrimes are also divided into felonies and misdemeanors. The more severe the crime the harsher the punishment they may face. The criminal may be forced to pay a fine and or spend time in prison. Cybercrimes can be committed anywhere it imperative to know that if the cybercriminal is another nation depending on the crime they committed they could possibly be extradited to the United States. An example would be if a criminal outside the US decides to use a computer and it affects the United States foreign commerce or communication, if there location is known the US could extradite them. More than often cyber criminals are usually individuals who are tech savvy so they make sure that they are able to hide their tracks. Sometimes these criminals are so good it is nearly impossible to know where their location is. The chart below was a table taken out of Prosecuting Computer Crimes(2015) is the list of possible punishment a person may face for committing any cyber crime. The article was created 3 years ago meaning that it is possible that some of the information is outdated and more crimes can and should be added to the chart. The federal government uses the table below so they know how to prosecute computer crimes; it is important to note that conspiracy to commit and attempts of these crimes are also punishable. This serves as guideline for states to be able to create their own laws.

It should be considered important to all social media users that there are cybernetic crimes that can be punishable. They should know that it is imperative if they are a victim of a cybercrime they report crimes that are committed against them to the proper authorities. It’s important to do so because those criminals should be punished as well as it stopping them from targeting other people. This information can also be useful to the social media sites so they can find out how they can make sure their websites are safer for their users. They should be aware that anyone who attempts to illegally obtain their passwords to their accounts can and should be punished. One reason a criminal hacks into social media users accounts is in order to search for their personal information on their page. Another reason would be to access the information on their personal computers. One way the attempt to access personal account information is through the use of phishing attacks.

Phishing

Phishing attacks are defined as a kind of social engineering attacks that is used in order to steal a users data. Which also includes stealing login information from websites and the users credit card numbers. Originally phishing attacks were primarily done thru the use of emails but that gradually changed as more sites were created and the Internet was expanded. These criminals try to obtain information from people by impersonating as a trusted entity. However, nowadays, phishing attacks are increasingly sophisticated. Beyond email, phishing attacks spread via twitter direct messages, games on social networks, voice over IP phones and more; thus, blocking the phishing attacks from the source becomes increasingly difficult. (Gang, 2012). If the user unknowingly clicks on malicious link it may lead to installing malware on their computer or device. Examples of devastating consequences of clicking on fraudulent links are the possibility of unauthorized purchases, having the users funds stolen or suffering from identity theft.

Hackers have become more resourceful in finding ways to trick users to clicking on their malicious links. Besides the examples previously provided hackers are also able to create fraudulent ads on social media pages. There have been cases where people believe that they are logging on to their social media accounts without realizing they’re putting their information on fake sites. When logging on to fake sites it’s almost nearly impossible to tell the difference between the actually site and their site because they are able to do a decent job at replicating the sites. People see the company’s logo and assume they’re on the right websites without thinking to check on the links they clicked on. If users are paying close attention to what they are clicking they’ll be able to tell that the URL they are clicking from another website. An example of fraudulent websites is like picture below the URL spells amazon incorrectly with two-letter N’s instead of one.

In order to combat phishing attacks there are websites that make sure that they leave copyright information on the bottom of the page. Whenever a user is unsure whether or not they’re not the right webpage it would be a great idea if the scrolled to the bottom of the page to check for the company right information. This method isn’t always isn’t foolproof because these criminals also tend to create replicas copyright information on the bottom of the webpage. According to Jensen’s article, Training to Mitigate Phishing Attacks Using Mindfulness Techniques(2017) in order to combat phishing attacks company’ do three things ??¦automated removal or quarantine of phishing messages and corresponding websites; (2) automated warning mechanisms that notify individuals when they encounter a suspicious message or website; and (3) behavioral training during which individuals are taught to identify and report attacks. Companies are responsible in making sure they secure their websites but all users should be aware of the risk they face by not making sure they are in authentic websites.

In social media sites phishing occur more frequently than users tend to notice and realize they do. Getting Phished on Social Media (2017) article focused on explaining two kinds of phishing scams that people may incur on social media sites. According to Vishwanath (2017) article, one form of attack is that criminals create fake profiles on social media sites and attempt to befriend people. Usually these fake profiles have hundreds of friends that is why some users accept their friend request thinking that they are legitimate users. The second way they may attack a person is to directly extract an individual’s information by sending them direct messages. In his article he states that it is frequently more difficult on social media sites to tell if the user exposes themselves to a phishing scam due to the fact that there are users who are not aware that such attacks can take place on social media sites.

The picture above is from a random Facebook account, it is an example on fraudulent ad on someone’s home page. If a person pays close attention and reads the ad they’ll notice that the URL says www.walmart100.com, clearly a spoof link. On the bottom of the picture it also says it’s a click bait scam in order to get personal information from someone. All social media users should be aware and cautious of possibly being a victim of a phishing attack. As mentioned before being contacted by the scammers is one to become a victim. Another possible way to become a victim on a social media page is that scammers are able to create fraudulent links on their home pages. Not only that but they are able to create fake advertisements; people on their accounts homepage are able to see and click on the links. In some cases it may be clearly to anyone that the ads on the page are suspicious and it is not a good idea to click on them. These scammers have become more creative in creating different kinds of phishing attacks and all users should be aware of who and what the click on they are on their accounts. If they are unsure they should report the suspicious link to the website page or block the random person who has request to be their friend. People are unaware that the link on they clicked on is apart of phishing attack that may introduce a malware on to the device or computer the person is using.

Malware

Malware is defined as any piece of software that was created with the intention to harm data, devices or to people. Some examples of malware are viruses, Trojans or spyware. When a computer or device is infected with a virus it can attach themselves with clean files and infect other clean files in order to delete or corrupt files. Trojans is a dangerous malware that was created to appear as legitimate software. The goal of this particular malware is to create backdoors in the devices security to let other malware in. Obviously spyware was created to steal information on an individual’s computer or device. It hides within the computer system since the user is unaware that the spyware is keeping track to the different passwords the user has for different accounts.

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