Are Social Sites a Target for Hacking?


Any time a business, organization, or online company makes headlines because it has been compromised by hackers, it increases the concern users have for all of the other online places where their private information is stored.

With the growth of social media and the vast amount of personal data that can be stored on these sites, users can’t help but wonder if they are safe when they go online.

Creating Improved User Control

One of the best ways to ensure safety of data is by giving users control over what they share and with whom.

For instance, with Facebook you can choose to allow only your friends to be able to see your settings or to limit photos to friends of friends. Profiles can be set to private where you have to be a friend to see any information about the person.

Users can also delete comments and untag their photos to increase privacy. They may unfriend someone that they no longer wish to connect with. On Twitter, users can send private messages and keep their tweets private.

Security at the Site Level

Even with people being more diligent in their online privacy, many dangers lurk that they are not aware of.

Viruses often attack social networking sites through games and other avenues and can spread to hundreds or thousands of users quickly. When they do, they can post statuses and photos along with other information without the knowledge of the person.

Social networks are storehouses of big data for customers and processing it for various uses, including advertising. This only encourages hackers to target these sites.

In fact, all three of the big sites (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) have been hacked in the last few years. However, they have gotten faster at recognizing the situation and alerting users with emails telling them to change their passwords. While the sites have improved their security, they still have more work to do.

Changing the Way Privacy is handled

While social networks have increased the number of privacy settings they offer users, they need to do more.

They are leaving too much to the user to change instead of automatically setting the account to the safest options. If the default settings were set to private, the users could then determine if they wanted a public profile. This would improve privacy for users instead of forcing them to figure out their privacy settings to disable visibility to the public.

Another issue is lack of education.

While there are tools available to help protect users online, many people are not aware of them or they don’t know how to use them. They may install anti-virus protection on their computer but not on their mobile devices or they may not think of using tools to alert them when their names are mentioned on the internet.

Social networks have the opportunity and the responsibility to protect their users by educating them on how to use the site, especially the privacy features, and other ways they can safeguard valuable information.

Better Authentication Procedures

Considering all of the information that these networks have on users, they can also provide a better authentication process. They could improve security by requiring better passwords or using a two-step authentication process. They could require a password change periodically.

Some websites require you to use strong passwords that are a combination of letters, numbers, and characters. While these sites may not have direct access to financial information, they do hold a lot of data that can be useful to hackers and thieves in retrieving that information.

Social networks can also consider increasing their security to a level similar to ones used by merchants and other online data processors.

By increasing the focus on security and utilizing the latest technology to ensure users’ safety, social networks can pave the way for other organizations to step up and protect valuable information. Instead of focusing on the minimum requirements to protect users’ data, they should concentrate on maintaining the highest standards.

Social networks have moved to the forefront of technology in many areas; security should be the next place they choose to excel.

Just as they have taken a stand to protect data from government spying, they can stand firm to prevent other unauthorized access to their users’ data.

About The Author

Joyce Morse covers a wide array of subjects, including social media, small business and marketing.