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Social Media Malware - Welcome to the MinefieldThe world population is pushing upwards, with current estimates from the United Nations indicating there are about 7.9 billion people in the world today. Eight billion? Sometime in mid-2023, we’ll hit that mark. Nearly 60% of Earth’s residents (4.66 billion) use the internet so it’s pretty safe to say the Internet is the global community its inventors knew it would be and the greatest proof of that is exemplified by social media. But while you can reasonably expect to socialize with people all over the world, social experiences are not the only thing you’re exposing yourself to.

Much of the malware present on the Internet is directly accessible on social media posts, and many times your anti-virus software won’t even blink at it because YOU okayed its transfer. Let’s take a look at the minefields of social media.

Facebook is the most popular social media site with over 2.7 billion active users and during the time it takes you to read this article, between 1,000 - 2,000 more people will sign up. Well over half the computer users in the world have an active Facebook account. This is not necessarily a “good thing.”

CNET is one of the better websites that track and review things like new technology, food trends, and other cutting-edge technology/culture; they know their stuff.

Facebook supports itself by selling ads. They’re all over and offer everything from insurance from Progressive to the latest on the big stars in Hollywood. However, recently CNET announced one in five of those ads is actually a link to a website that will likely give you some malware for clicking on it. And since you clicked on the ad in the first place, you gave the site permission to send you its information (including the malware/virus/spyware.). If you’re using a reputable malware/anti-virus program, it will probably see the malware and block it. That free version of “Joe’s Virus-Not” you got off the web probably won’t.

As a “for instance,” last week I saw a Facebook link that mentioned John Lennon was obsessed with this 1990s celebrity. Since John Lennon died in 1980, I was pretty sure that site was not safe.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the other big problem with social media: There are a lot of “fun” activities that come up in a Facebook newsfeed that allow you to take the Myers-Briggs personality test or test your memory when it comes to 1980’s music, but some ask you some fairly common questions such as “what was your first car” or “who was your favorite teacher?” As you may have noticed, those are two of the more popular questions used to guard your accounts. My personal favorite is “If you had the same amount of money as your Social Security number, how much would you have?” A LOT of people answer that question without thinking, thereby giving scammers one of the most important numbers they can use to pick your bank accounts clean.

Like any enterprising business, scammers follow the money. Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp are social media websites that each has over 2 billion active users and scammers especially target these sites for data-mining. Meanwhile, the personal web blog of Catherine Scott, a student at the University of Toronto - “spiderbytes.org” – probably doesn’t see a lot of hacker issues.