Last updated: 16 May 2016
As we settle into the New Year, many of us have already broken some of those resolutions we promised to keep in 2016. But if you’re one of Facebook’s 1.55 million users, here’s a resolution you should heed if you want to keep yourself and your friends safe: Be less gullible. As, we learned, Mark Zuckerberg is not giving away part of his fortune to “people like you and me,” nor is Netflix giving away a free year for simply clicking a link. In fact, you’re more likely to get a virus than be rewarded for clicking through to any of these so-called offers.
I had no less than 20 friends post the Zuckerberg hoax, looking for their share of the $45 billion in Facebook stock. Fortunately, the Zuckerberg post was not designed to try and scam people out of money or phish them onto an alternate site, but there have been many scams that are not as benign. One particular nasty hoax invited users to get the much anticipated “dislike” feature (Facebook has announced plans to release this feature in the future). The post was titled “Get newly introduced Facebook dislike button on your profile.” Clicking through took users to a malicious website where they would be prompted to enter personal and account information.
It’s not uncommon for these types of hoaxes to show up in the workplace. The online activities of employees can introduce malware which would not only threaten the individual, but the entire organization. Security savvy organizations use two-factor authentication to protect their networks, validate employee logins and secure corporate data. This ensures activity forbidden by company policy can’t be performed while on the network.
With so many fake news stories, too good to be true offers, and bogus charities floating around on social media, it’s understandable that some of your friends may fall prey to a hoax. So how can you stay safe out there? Here are a few tips to spot a scam from a million miles away.
Take a close look at post itself—is the post in all capital letters? Is the grammar poor? Are there misspellings? If so, that’s a red flag and should be avoided.
Mind the source—this is especially true for questionable news stories and posts asking for charitable contributions. Take a look at the link to the source. Does it lead to a reputable, trustworthy site? If you’re questioning the validity of a news story, Google it. If it’s true, reputable news sources will show.
Beware the share—hoax posts will often ask you to share before you can complete the task, such as viewing a video or entering the contest. Hackers know your friends are more likely to also fall for the scam if the post came from a friend.
Stay with the pack—as with the case of the pre-release dislike button, offers that promise you can do things differently (like change the color) in Facebook are false. These posts usually prompt users to download an app, which will lead to an increase in your spam or possibly worse.
There are security sites, such as Facecrooks.com and ThatsNonsense.com that are dedicated to warning you about Facebook scams. The Snopes Facebook page will keep you up-to-date with the latest hoaxes. Like their page to be the first to know.
As for your gullible friends, there is not much you can do to change their trusting nature, but you can try to prevent them from falling for future hoaxes. If your friend shares or posts something you know to be untrue, politely let them know it’s a hoax and provide a link to a reputable source with the proof.
Failure to secure corporate data leads to data breaches. Learn more regarding how they impact consumer trust by checking out our infographic, Customer Loyalty, Trust and Data Breaches.