Social Security: Social Media Phishing Attacks Are on the Rise, Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself

While phishing, or the practice of sending emails or making phone calls purporting to be from legitimate companies in an effort to get victims to reveal personal information is nothing new, fraudsters are increasingly turning to new channels to target victims. One such channel is social media.

Recently, a social media attacked carried out by Russian hackers was able to infiltrate the computer of a Pentagon official. And it didn’t take much for the hackers to find their way in; a simple link attached to a Twitter post advertising a vacation package was enough. Once the linked was clicked, the official’s computer was infected.

In November 2015, the State Department revealed that its 7,000 of its employees took the first step toward being compromised by clicking on a link that appeared in their social media feeds.

According to one report, social media phishing attacks increased 500% from beginning of 2016 to end of 2016. While that’s a scary statistic, the success rate of these types of attacks may be even more frightening.

Research published by the cybersecurity firm ZeroFOX found that 66% of spear phishing messages sent through social media sites were opened by their intended victims.

The reason for the increase in attacks on social media is rather simple. These attacks are targeting channels where users usually have a high-degree of trust. When you share something to your social network, or see a post from someone else, it’s unlikely that you screen the content for fraud potential.

With the number of attacks on the rise, and the vulnerability that social media channels presents making headlines, corporations and government agencies around the world are starting to realize the importance of educating and training staff on the dangers of social media fraud.

However, these attacks aren’t relegated to big organizations. Anyone who uses social media should be aware of the potential threats as well as the steps they can take to make it less likely that they will be hooked in a social media phishing attack.


To help, we’ve put together the following infographic: