Skip to main content

Technology Insights Blog

Social Media Threats in 2020 (Video)

Ben Schmerler
Post by Ben Schmerler
September 10, 2020
Social Media Threats in 2020 (Video)

Between Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram, and whatever other Social Media platforms that are on the horizon, our lives are more public than ever before. There are definitely upsides and downsides to this landscape, but I’m not here to talk about that today. Whether we like it or not, it’s clear that Social Media is here to stay.

What I do want to talk about is what we should be thinking about as we engage with these platforms.

What can we do as individuals to limit the downsides and risks associated with having a social media presence? So let’s take a few moments and go over a few important tips to keep in mind in 2020 when it comes to social media.


Tip #1 – Know who actually controls your data

Let’s be honest. Companies that operate social media platforms and collect your information are not doing this for charity. While they can provide many useful services, social media companies are leveraging your information in order to attract advertisers or do other things to generate a profit.

So before you provide your information to these companies, do some research and think about what they are going to do with it. Advertising is one thing, but perhaps they are sharing your data with parties you would rather not have access to your personal information. There are limits to what we can do to control our data, but one thing we can all do is know who we voluntarily share information with.


Tip #2 – Phishing Through Social Media

When the Internet first became popular, email was the default way to communicate with someone, and scammers gravitated towards email scams to exploit individuals into doing what they want. Email continues to be a cheap and easy way to execute these kinds of attacks, and phishing continues to lead the way in cyber-security threats.

But email isn’t the only way we communicate with one another these days. Think about your social circle. I bet you have a number of people you connect with regularly on LinkedIn or Facebook…and you have no idea what their actual email address is!

Well scammers know that people tend to spend a lot of time communicating on social media, and that there is a certain kind of intimacy between connections on social media that they can exploit. As a result, scammers are diversifying by using social media as a form of attack.

So be careful when accepting messages or taking requests on social media. Even if you think it is from someone you know, their account could be compromised, or you may be getting a message from someone impersonating your contact. When you are about to engage in sensitive data or financial exchanges, always be vigilant and double check before you act.


Tip #3 – Bogus Apps Stealing Data or Installing Malware

The barriers of entry for social media are quite low. Setting up profiles or groups requires very little actual information. So if you are a bad guy and you want to start farming private data, there isn’t much stopping you from setting up shop on Facebook and farming users.

These types of cons come in the form of “quizzes” or other sharable items where a user consents to volunteer personal information from their social media profile. It can even go as far as installing adware or malware by sending you an executable to install on your device.

The people who develop these low value social media “products” are often fooling you because of the perception that these small apps are harmless and just for fun. But like I said earlier, social media is about leveraging your experience on the platform for others to make money… and that doesn’t just apply to companies…it extends to cyber-criminals too.


I don’t want to sound overly negative or alarmist towards social media. I’m on social media, and this video will be shared on social media. There are many benefits we get from the ability to quickly share information with our personal networks, and I think at times we take for granted some of the ways technology has changed the way we live and work for the better. But like anything else, the benefits of social media come with caveats that you need to keep in mind.

What Social Media trends are you noticing? We’d love to hear more about your experiences in the comments.

Until next time, stay vigilant my friends.

Ben Schmerler
Post by Ben Schmerler
September 10, 2020
Ben Schmerler is the Director of Strategic Operations at DP Solutions, an award-winning managed service provider (MSP) headquartered in Columbia, MD. Ben works with his clients to develop consistent strategies not only for technical security, but also policy/compliance management, system design, integration planning, and other business level technology concerns.