Digital Life 24.2.2014 01:41 pm

Social media users’ tips to avoid STIs

Image courtesy AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL

Image courtesy AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL

It takes only seconds to share a post or visit that link you saw on social media, but security experts are warning that it is putting you and your information at risk with the spread of Socially transmitted infections (STIs).

Jonas Thulin a Security Consultant at Fortinet explained that as social media has evolved to become a big part of many users’ day, sharing and visiting links has put the social media user into cyber danger as malware can now be spread more effectively.

“Once you’ve caught an STI, the most commonly attacked items are your user credentials. Password theft makes the news frequently, such as the recent attack by the Pony Botnet which resulted in the theft of two million credentials for sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter,” said Thulin. 

These attacks can also involve the installation of malware that can be used at a later stage to add your computer to the botnet that caused the initial attack, causing it to be more powerful.  Botnets are also often used to generate online buzz for companies or individuals through social media posting, an activity known as ‘like farming.’
How to protect yourself from STIs

•  Log out of your social media accounts when you are done using them, especially on public computers.
•  Make sure you know who all your social media contacts actually are.
•  Keep your computer operating system and applications updated, especially your browsers and any other programs that can access the Internet.
•  Only download applications and updates from their original source.
•  Use a pop-up blocker on your Internet browser.
•  Use a browser plug-in that limits the sources allowed to run JavaScript code.
•  Research any new apps that you want to download to see if they are safe.
•  Stay alert about new social media malware attacks and learn how to prevent them.
•  Don’t ignore a vulnerability just because it isn’t listed as critical.
•  If children use your computer, use parental control software and, if possible, supervise them to make sure they aren’t clicking something they shouldn’t. You should also educate them about the risks.

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