Social Media Allows Hackers to Connect More Easily and Do More Damage

PayPal, Mastercard and VISA announced earlier last week that they had cut ties with Wikileaks, currently under investigation by government officials for the release of secret diplomatic cables. Proponents of WikiLeaks, angered by the companies’ possible cave to government pressure, mounted a widespread attack on PayPal, Mastercard and VISA systems using social media as a venue to connect potential participants.

Chat traffic on many different forums shows users connecting and volunteering their computers for botnets, which are illegal networks of computers that can be controlled by a dominant server and used to multiply an attack.

Although our own personal websites may not be present enough on the world playing field to warrant any type of large-scale attack, we do need to be aware of all the ways that social media makes it easier for hackers to break in to our social profiles, blogs and websites. Not only are hackers able to connect and share information through social networking, they are able to more easily break into our own sites using our social media profile as a window. This type of attack reminds us again of the many reasons we need to try our best to secure our personal information. The rise of social media, however, makes it more and more difficult to do so.

As previously mentioned on NetChunks, social networking sites are some of the most commonly hacked sites in the world. And these sites, potentially, provide the biggest advantages to anyone looking to hack your information. Social media provides personal details such as addresses, phone numbers, commonly used websites, friends and places of business. Most bloggers also link access to their social media profiles through their sites, and vice versa, in order to fuel communication and build relationships with users. As useful a business tool as social media is, getting hacked can do great damage to your online reputation and potentially un-do some of those relationships you have worked hard to build.

There is no way to prevent your blog or site from being hacked. However, you can take steps to make it more difficult for your social media account to be hacked, and limit the amount of access a hacker would have to your information. Make sure to use a strong password for all your online applications, such as long passwords that include both letters and numbers. Use different passwords for different applications, and don’t make your passwords automatically saved by your browser. Don’t store password information anywhere online. In case your social profile is hacked, don’t include any personal information on your profile, even if you have the information blocked to most viewers. You can also help protect your site or blog in various ways by using security systems that locate your site’s vulnerabilities or analyze the security of your passwords.

The recent WikiLeaks issue will fuel further debate about the delicate balance between freedom of speech and information and the use of online freedoms with intent to do damage. Regardless of where your opinion lies, there is no better time to secure your online information and protect yourself from becoming a victim when the wide variety of information available on the web falls into the wrong hands.

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