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Some security tips using social media accounts

Now that you know the broad variety of risks of using social networks, please don’t feel that the only solution to secure your safety and privacy is to delete your social accounts! The secret is to use social media while understanding the risks and knowing how to act accordingly.

There are some common behaviours by fraudsters and hackers that can alert us to the possibility of a phishing scam. While you are browsing your favourite social media network, always be aware to these red flags that indicate that that post is a phishing scam:

Red Flag #1: Friend requests from strangers

You received a friend request from a stranger? Someone that you don’t recognise sent you a private message? A business or a public figure asked you to start following them?

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are full of fake profiles with the intent of phishing users. Don’t accept any friend request without verification. If someone is disturbing you, it’s good to report and block such profiles.

Quick Tip

Do a reverse image search of the profile photograph. Most of the times, hackers use stock photos. If you have results for different websites that uses that photo for different purposes, it’s a fake account.

Ever notice the blue checkmark beside the names of high profile or businesses on social platforms? It looks like this:

This checkmark is available in almost every social media platform and it means that the account is verified as authentic and belongs to a celebrity or an industry leader.

For example, if you get a DM from “Twitter Verified” account without the check mark, watch out – it’s likely to be a fake!

Redflag #2: Click in this link!

The aim of a phishing attack is usually to get you to download an attachment (for example, a photo sent in a direct message) or to click on a link. Sometimes criminals impersonate trustworthy sources to get you to click on a link (or download an app) that contains malware. What looks like a legitimate hyperlink can be a disguised link to a criminal website.

Therefore, don’t click in any link that redirects you to other website. Instead, go to directly to the source – brand website, bank page, etc. – and confirm if you see in the social media it’s true advertisement or announcement.

Quick Tip

A quick way to attest if the hyperlink will re-direct you to a trustworthy source it’s to hover your mouse over the text of the hyperlink.  You should see the full URL, which will help to show whether it leads to a legitimate website.

What is the main clue that we should be looking is the URL?

Please pay attention to the beginning of the URL: safe URLs begin with “https” instead of just “http” to indicate that they are encrypted. The “s” in “https” stands for “secure”.

So, this hyperlink is a phishing scam!  


Quick Tip

What if you click in a link? What should you do?

If that link re-directs you to a website there are a few signs that you can look for to help you know if a company is real or not.

So, before you do anything, like enter your login credentials or click in the download button, look for these hints:

  • In the search bar appears “https” or a “lock” symbol – that means that the website is secured.
  • Look at the Domain – cyber attackers are very sneaky. Most of the times, domains are very similar to the real one, for example “” or “”.
  • There are a physical address and phone number – reputable companies will list their information so you can contact them if there is a problem.
  • Return policy – reputable sites should list their return policy as well as their shipping policy
  • Privacy statement – reputable sites should tell you how they protect your information and whether they give your information to third parties.

Redflag #3: Promotions and contests too good to be true!

This is a very common phishing scam. By presenting very low prices, offering irresistible prizes or giving away discounts, fraudsters can trick users into giving private information.

Quick Tip

What are the common signs of a contest scam?

  • The social page has a low follower count;
  • Poor grammar and spelling;
  • They ask very personal information, like your mother’s name, first pet, if you have kids, All they want are clues to crack your password!

They are very persistent in their dialog! They just want you to feel the sense of “urgency”.

As you can conclude, there are ways to detect phishing scams in social media, preventing you to become a victim of a cyberattack that compromises your personal data. But having an attentive eye is not enough. In regard of cyberattacks the best remedy is prevention. So, what can you do to always be one step ahead from cybercriminals in social media?

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