Social Networks

Everyone knows about high-profile Internet risks such as Trojans, key loggers, and a variety of viruses.  There is a much more subtle Internet security risk, known as online social engineering, which attempts to avoid the spotlight but is equally dangerous.  Social engineering is an attempt to gain access to personal information through misrepresentation.  While these schemes become complex, some remain more subtle than others.

Internet Security Risk – Online Social Engineering:

Shoulder Surfing


Shoulder surfing is an Internet security risk which has very little to do with the website’s someone visits.  This strategy is most often used at Wi-Fi hotspots and areas which offer public computers.  The perpetrator gained access to personal data by simply watching their victim as they are typing.  It seems too simple to work, however most people become so engrossed what they are doing that they ignore their surrounding environment.




Baiting is another Internet security risk which has roots in a traditional con.  In the situation, the perpetrator gains access to personal information directly from the victim.  Traditionally a series of seemingly harmless questions were asked over the phone in order to uncover personal information.  By utilizing small numbers of facts throughout the conversation, the perpetrator quickly begins to sound legitimate.  As an Internet security risk, this form of social engineering now takes place on social media sites, forums, and other interactive environments.




Traditionally, impersonation is when the perpetrator pretends to be someone else.  This has become an Internet security risk in the form of phishing.  Through e-mails, text messages, and social media interactions impersonators can quickly gain access to personal information.  Along with traditional phishing techniques, impersonation is also being applied to social gaming situations.  The foundation of social gaming is to connect with new players which give an impersonator the perfect option to connect with their victim.




There are a growing number of legitimate survey companies which operate primarily online.  Most people don’t hesitate to fill out a quick survey when it hits their inbox or a shared on a social media site.  This Internet security risk can be difficult to identify because there are so many legitimate companies who rely on surveys.  If there is any question about the legitimacy of a survey, don’t hesitate to contact the sponsoring organization to authenticate it.  Additionally, always take a close look at the privacy policy presented before the survey begins.


Social Media


Since online social engineering relies on misrepresentation, social media is an obvious hotbed of opportunity for scammers.  Setting up an online profile takes a matter of minutes and connecting with other users is easier than ever.  To minimize the Internet security risks of social media sites pay close attention to anyone sending a friend or follow request.  Since perpetrators are targeting multiple victims simultaneously, they can take their time gaining the trust of their targets.


It is easy to get caught up with the technical side of Internet security because it “feels” more threatening.  Most people are more afraid of the technical Internet security risks because they don’t really understand how they work.  This provides more subtle social engineering Internet security threats the ability to operate out in the open.

Frank Burns enjoys discussing technology related to safety and security.  The France VPN he uses is a prime example. His works educate on topics relating to a free and open internet.

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