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FBI’s Internet Crime Report Reveals Crimes on Social Media

Internet Crime Report

Internet Crime Report

It’s easier to see what’s trending on social networks than ever before, or so it would seem after the release of the FBI’s Internet Crime Report.

A few weeks ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled new changes to the site’s news feed feature, allowing users to pick which content providers and friends show up at the top of their news feed. The company said these new methods of personalization let people “actively shape” their individual Facebook experience.

Combine that with the site’s now year-old “trending topics” sidebar, itself derived from a similar function on Twitter, and you’ve given social media users (read: just about everyone) a huge amount of control. These new features can make us feel as though social media is becoming steadily more transparent—we can keep tabs on world news, and indeed whatever we want, with a single click.

And despite all that, it’s the things you won’t be able to see on social media that could undermine your control over it.

They are social media cyber crimes, and we got a taste of how rampant they are in the FBI’s IC3 2014 Internet Crime Report, released by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) this past May. The document revealed that 12% of all logged complaints involved social media. To put that in perspective, that’s about 32,000 out of 269,422 complaints in 2014 (roughly 92 per day). In the past 5 years, complaints of this type have quadrupled.

Internet Crime Report

So how exactly are criminals exploiting users? The Internet Crime Report lists 3 major methods of fraud that have been especially harmful: click-jacking, doxing, and pharming. The report also notes that “in most cases, a victim’s personal information was exploited through compromised accounts or social engineering.”

This last point is particularly concerning for those trying to defend organizational and personal social networks, because social engineering is all about one thing—trust. Criminals depend on their ability to convince unassuming professionals, co-workers, clients, and friends that a profile is legitimate, or a link safe to click on.

Social media is becoming more trusted than other applications as it grows. Research shows that it’s surpassing email trustworthiness; According to Norton, only 11% of respondents said they open unsolicited emails, while nearly 40% said they accept unknown friend requests.

As social media’s features grow in the direction of active user input and customization, it will be tempting for the average user to trust what links they click on and what profiles they decide to connect with. But it’s important that network managers stay vigilant in order to prevent social engineering and other dangers from occurring.

Even the Internet Crime Report acknowledges that “social media has revolutionized the way people interact.” It’s time for cyber defenders to evolve their tactics and protect this new form of communication from exploitation and fraud. See what you can do now by starting with ZeroFOX solutions.