The love for social media is no longer a secret. Whether it’s Facebook or Instagram with billions of active users or LinkedIn with million users, each platform has special features that allow the users to interact with their family, friends or even strangers across the globe. No doubt, these platforms allow us to connect with our loved ones and are a source of entertainment by allowing us to post our life routines, pictures, and videos, etc., they also pose a number of threats if we aren’t cautious or use them properly.
Banks and other online institutions are moving towards the adoption of high-security protocols and practices to identify fake identities and stopping them from conducting fraudulent activities. Therefore, cybercriminals and scammers are turning to social media to steal individuals’ identities and carrying out the frauds and scams. The scamming strategies may differ but the purpose of each of them is the same at the end, i.e. fraud.
Social media has gained grounds onboarding every type of audience without proper verification, giving room to fraudsters. Both individuals and businesses have lost more than $100 billion due to internet fraud, with the relative increase in scams in 2018. Social media scams and frauds are higher in number than any other organization. The reason is the use of traditional verification through ID and password:
But does this ensure that credentials are not stolen and are entered by the owner? No, it doesn’t.
When it comes to the internet and social media platforms, people often seem careless with the use of services. This makes hacking more prevalent than ever and sadly, it tends to increase with passing years. Spammers have badly infected social media channels; not only the individuals but companies and celebrities are also at a higher risk of getting their accounts messed up.
The failure to incorporate verification services had led the spammers to take forward identity theft through different spamming techniques. Building a fake profile is quite convenient for fraudsters as they don’t need to prove their identity first. Just get a name and email address and then BAM.. profile is online. Here are some common social media scams that result in identity theft inducing monetary frauds:
“Hey somebody just put up your pictures on their page.. check them out!” Say what?? You click the enclosed link immediately and it opens a login page of facebook or twitter. There you enter your account credentials and get redirected to your profile - and that’s how you unknowingly give your information to cybercriminals and spammers with a complete hold of your account.
Another case is receiving an email from support saying “we have received your request to suspend your account. Your account will be disabled in the next 24 hours, cancel by clicking on this link.” Due to addiction to social media, you wouldn’t let them suspend your account and hence you click on the link providing all your account information to the spammer.
In both cases, the link and message were fake, sent through a fake/spammed account to steal your information. This technique is called phishing and don’t be surprised if some days later you found another account with the same information as yours.
Picture this: one day you receive a request of your friend from some new account having the same name and picture; you accept that thinking it’s a new account. Soon after you get the message “Thank you for accepting my request..this is my new account previous one is affected by some virus.” Now you are confirmed about the identity.
A few months pass, one day you receive an urgent request from your friend saying he lost his credit card somewhere and currently is in dire need of money. Being the humble person you are - you sent him money right away. But later on, you come to know that your friend never made a new account and isn’t aware of the request as well. Just then you realize that you have been scammed through a fake account.
Passwords are no more Secure so what’s next?
Passwords are the conventional security checks that serve as the line of defense between intruders and the system. But breaking and stealing passwords through the latest technologies and tricks is not a problem for hackers. In fact, adopting different scamming strategies, hackers can easily gain access to one’s credentials.
Taking into account the critical security risks associated with weak passwords, the idea of 2 Factor authentication was incorporated for logging in to the accounts. The idea behind this method is to add an extra security layer to make the user experience better and secure.
Social media platforms (e.g. facebook) is using 2-factor authentication to ensure the authenticity of users in case someone else has access to the users’ passwords. Through two factor authentication, an automated code is sent on users’ mobile which they need to enter to verify their account, providing an extra layer of security. The concept works very well, to log in, a hacker would have to steal your mobile or spoof your number. This is perfect in case when a user already has an account on social media. But does it verify that the account is not fake? No, it doesn’t.
Additionally, while registering for new accounts on facebook or other social media channels, there is no proper verification strategy that can ensure that new IDs are of real people. The lack of identity verification is a goldmine for fraudsters as they don’t have to prove their identity at the time of account making, henceforth proving 2-F authentication is insecure in this regard.
Fake social media accounts are becoming a major concern not just for society as a whole but for organizations as well. The intent behind these accounts is not limited to identity theft and monetary fraud, such accounts can also be used to wage war against companies for shady reasons. Fake social media profiles attract relatively greater attention by spreading fake news and information; eventually turning into the worst nightmare for the targets. So, how to protect yourselves from these fake accounts and social media scams?
Considering the risks associated with social media platforms, online identity verification services are most appropriate to deter social media scams. The advanced verification system utilizes the latest Artificial technology and machine learning algorithms. Using real-time facial verification combined with document verification at the time of sign-up can hinder cybercriminals and fraudsters from making fake accounts.
In addition to making social media platforms secure, identity verification improves the customer experience. Through facial verification, authentication is as easy as taking a selfie and there is no burden on the users to remember passwords and codes. According to the 2017 visa study, 46% of the respondents claimed that biometrics are more secure than passwords and 70% said they are easier. It is high time for social media platforms to adopt identity verification services to make the user experience secure and healthy.