The internet is an amazing resource for learning new things, unfortunately, the bad guys use it too. It’s easy to get into the mindset that your accounts are of no interest to “hackers.” The thing is the more diligent the high value targets become in protecting themselves from attacks, the more likely their friends, family, and followers will be targeted to gain access by compromising and abusing the accounts of people they trust. So when you’re super excited that your favorite athlete, musician, actor, evangelist, or businessman finally noticed your mentions online and followed you and starts up a conversation, be wary to do a sanity check to see if that account is the real deal, if this unverified celebrity account only has 8 followers, it’s definitely fake! If they’re telling you they noticed how big a fan you are and want to offer you free tickets/etc, it’s usually too good to be true, and they’re just trying to get more personal information from you like where you live, or maybe your credit card info to complete your “free registration.” Definitely don’t give them any information about yourself, and especially don’t click on any links they send you.
Even worse than these phishing attacks capitalizing on celebrity are the attempts that prey on the kindness of strangers following a tragedy. Perhaps it’s a “friend of a friend” taking a survey, or writing a story for a memorial of a local who passed suddenly, etc. Or perhaps a bad actor collecting “relief funds” after a natural disaster. These despicable scammers play dirty and profit from the kindness of strangers. Public posts on social media make it really easy for strangers to learn about who we are and what we like to craft personalized attacks.
What can you do to help protect yourself?
- don’t click links in unexpected messages
- if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- consider making your social media accounts private
- don’t give strangers your address, location, or payment info