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It’s uncommon to hear about someone who doesn’t use social media today. However, that doesn’t mean that social media is always safe. While there are dangers to these platforms, like phishing and scams, there are also risks in just having an account. This risk is because of the increasing data breaches experienced by these platforms. You can always use a Facebook proxy or another type to enjoy a safer online experience. However, a Facebook proxy doesn’t remove the dangers of giving your information to these platforms. You need to be aware of what the dangers are so that you can implement different protection measures.
What is a Data Breach?
A data breach can either happen through human error and negligence or a cyberattack. It results in sensitive information being leaked on the web. This information can include your name and surname, address, email, contact information, medical information, and even banking information. Often, the information leaked during a data breach is made available on the dark web, public forums, and chat rooms. This leads to anyone with ulterior motives being able to use your information for their purposes.
The Rise of Social Media
Social media has undoubtedly become a part of everyday life, with almost everyone having an account on one platform or another. While the roots of social media go back to the 80s and 90s, the first start of it as we know it today was with the introduction of Friendster in 2001 and LinkedIn in 2002. It started to take off between 2003, when MySpace entered the market, and 2004, when Facebook was introduced.
Reddit was founded in 2005, and Twitter became a thing in 2006. Instagram and Pinterest entered the scene in 2010, with Snapchat following not far behind in 2011. The latest to be introduced and become a global sensation is TikTok, created in 2016. These platforms have become a way for people to connect and share information, content, and more with a global audience. It’s also one of the reasons cyber criminals love hacking these platforms. With each platform having so many users and connecting people, hacking one account can give you possible access to thousands more.
2022 Data Breaches
To understand how frequently data breaches happen on social media platforms, we look at some of the most popular platforms and the recent breaches.
Twitter has had several reported data breaches, and with the latest news in August, where Twitter’s former head of security stated that Twitter is lax in its security, we can see why. In July 2022, over 5.4 million Twitter users had their information stolen by a hacker, who posted it for sale on a popular dark web forum.
This data breach isn’t alone, as in 2020, another hacker breached high-profile Twitter accounts to complete a Bitcoin scam. In 2019, two employees were charged with spying, with another one found as a spy this year. Also, in 2019, several hundred Twitter users’ data leaked in a cyberattack.
Facebook has an extensive history of poor security regarding its customers’ information. With the first significant breach of over six million users happening in 2013, the company seemingly still hasn’t fixed this issue. From 2018 to 2019, the company reported seven separate instances of data leaks, all with millions of users’ information compromised each time. In April 2021, over 533 million users from over 106 countries had their names, surnames, emails, birth dates, and locations exposed. It led to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica lawsuit about the data breach.
While not as severe as Facebook, Instagram has had its own fair share of data breaches. In 2015, a third-party app client of Instagram called InstaAgent was discovered to be stealing and leaking the passwords of Instagram users. Two years later, over 6 million Instagram accounts had their contact information compromised.
In 2019, Instagram reported storing millions of passwords unencrypted by accident, a significant data breach on the company’s side. Two more separate instances of data breaches were recorded in 2019 and 2020, with the latest data breach in 2021. This leak exposed the scraped data of more than 214 million accounts due to a misconfigured database that wasn’t encrypted.
There are two major LinkedIn data breaches we examined. One was in 2012 when around 165 million users had their passwords hacked and posted on a Russian hacker forum. The other is a more recent event in 2021, which compromised over 700 million LinkedIn users, which makes up about 90% of the platform’s users. A hacker had scraped data by exploiting the API of the website. The data included full names, geolocations, contact details, and other account details the hacker tried to sell.
What Dangers Does it Represent?
There are many dangers to data breaches on these platforms. Social media connects people, so it’s possible to access and spread malware after simply hacking a single account. Further, influencers earn money using these platforms, and depending on the severity of the breach; your banking information can also become compromised. Some lesser dangers are increased phishing attempts, scams, or even using your information to complete unauthorized actions.
Information you provide when setting up an account includes your name, location, hobbies, contact details, and more. This information, when leaked, can be used without your permission to complete nefarious goals. It’s important to consider whether the risk of providing this information to social media sites is worth it. It’s always best to remain cautious, use proxies like a Facebook proxy and be aware of the risks despite the seeming security a platform might boast.