Why Hackers Hack Your Social Media Accounts 2020

Why Hackers Hack Your Social Media Accounts 2020

Why Hackers Hack Your Social Media Accounts:

In recent times, there has been a substantial rise in the number of data breaches. From Ashley Madison to recent Facebook’s data breach, the list is virtually endless. Even the biggest organizations and social media giants like Facebook have suffered serious data breaches of millions of users.

Even worrisome is the fact that only the major social media giant related data breaches get widespread public attention. However, in reality numerous others social media sites continue to get breached and hacked on almost daily basis. Hence, the number of websites getting hacked / compromised is much more than what it appears superficially.  

How Hackers Work?
Hackers constantly alter their methods and employ new tricks to remain ahead of the defenders of the virtual world - CISOs. With time, their attacks are becoming sophisticated and clandestine. For example, now-a-days malicious links are hidden within images something known as “Steganography”. 

The vulnerabilities within systems and devices, if not patched are leveraged by hackers. According to reports, 70% of the breaches could have been avoided by installing patches and updates in real time. However, even when updates are available, systems continue to remain un-patched and thus face un-authorized data access. 

Why Social Media is the New Target?
Social media have become giants over time. For example, Facebook alone has over 300 million users in India! Thus, any data breach of social media can provide data of millions of users, which can be sold on underground platforms like Dark-net for millions of dollars. 

Similarly, perpetual attempts are made to hack social media accounts of individual users. Several attackers eventually gain success in their attempts to hack them. Hacking individual social media accounts is relatively easy in the virtual world, due to factors discussed below:

  • Casual Social Media Users: Unlike emails where people are extremely wary of phishing attacks, users are less cautious of cyber attacks on social media sites. One of the reasons is the design of Facebook and other social media sites, which give feeling of close connection and warmth with even complete strangers. For example, Facebook tries to show some matching connections or similarity in likes and dislikes. 
  • Non valuable Information: Many social media users don’t see their profiles as valuable information goldmines. Partly, because the process to create profiles on these sites is completely free and even when accounts get compromised, there is no visible loss of money, at-least instantly. 

How Social Media Accounts are Useful to Hackers:
Social media accounts contain some of the most private information about an individual, especially direct chats with family and friends. These information and chats can reveal a lot of information about an individual and also be used for committing further cyber crimes. Here are some of the ways a hacker can benefit from hacked social media accounts:

  • Financial Gain: Once the hacker has all the sensitive private details about you, a hacker can use the same, to fleece you by impersonating an authority like banker. Basically, the innate personal details can be used to garner your trust and then de-fraud you. 
  • Request for Favors including Money: After hacking your accounts, attacker can seek donations or loans from your family and friends, in your name. These requests are laden with sense of urgency, for example, needing money for an urgent operation. It forces the person on the other end, to comply with the request without much deliberation or confirmation of facts. 
  • Lewd/ Vulgar Chats: Once hacker has access to your account, he may send lewd/ vulgar message to female friends, family members or even strangers. Even worse, he may request for sexual favors or pass on sexually colored remarks. In all probability, you shall appear the culprit to victim and police. 
  • Phishing Attempts: We know that based on privacy settings, social media sites provide differential visibility of personal information contained in profiles. For example, a friend can see more information vis-à-vis complete stranger of an account. After hacking, hackers collect as much information as possible, about connected profiles and then use the same to design well crafted phishing attempts. It enhances the success ratio of phishing campaigns drastically. 
  • Extortion, blackmail: A hacked social media account, can also be used to demand extortion or to blackmail someone for financial or other gains. 

Now, you may have realized the extent to which your hacked social media accounts can be mis-used. The way a hacker will mis-use your account depends on the intent of hacking, his thought process and his tech savvy nature, amongst others. 

In one off cases, the hacked accounts have also been used by anti social elements like terrorists, extremists etc to communicate with other members of the group, to extort levy, to plan and co-ordinate events etc. Therefore, you must take plausible steps to prevent your social media account from getting hacked, which we shall discuss in another write-up.

Learn ways to prevent social media accounts hacking, here: https://cyber-cops.com/blog/10-ways-to-prevent-social-media-accounts-hack