How safe is social?: Top 5 social media security scares for 2015

​Mobile ransomware, work-at-home fraud and horrid videos all set to claim new victims in 2015.

Mobile ransomware, targeted job fraud and trojans lurking behind shocking videos are all expected to make their appearance on social media in 2015.

Studies in the last year on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allowed Bitdefender security researchers to forecast future trends. While the trends seem mainly dangerous for individual social media users, growing corporate adoption of BYOD policies mean that they could also spell disaster for an entire company.

Here are the top five social media predictions for the coming year:

Mobile ransomware could hit social networks

Though the June takedown of the Zeus botnet threw a wet blanket on Cryptolocker, variants of the e-threat found its way on new platforms.

Users should remain sceptical of any message accusing them of various crimes such as zoophilic behavior and distributing child pornography. All these may be part of ransomware campaigns and could hit social networks as well.

Trojans hiding behind horrid videos on a rise

Malicious links hidden in atrocious Facebook videos will be on the rise in 2015. A two-year study by Bitdefender recently revealed such videos account for almost one per cent of all social media scams and malicious ‘beheading and murder’ videos are expected to multiply in the following year.

Behavior analysts and psychologists say teenagers are the most susceptible to clicking on shocking videos, as their empathy for victims of violence is lower.

Work-at-home scams to claim more victims

LinkedIn will be hit by a higher number of “work-at-home” scams luring job-seekers with promises of huge salaries for almost no effort. With many positions moving in the virtual world, such social engineering attacks will claim more victims in 2015.

Users are advised to watch out for poorly completed profiles and dubious recruiters.

Popular searches will make for popular scams

Bitdefender also draws a warning sign on popular Google searches. Besides typical SEO poisoning, cyber-criminals will also use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to spread scams based on search interest.

Google’s recent list of top searches coincided with some of the most popular scams this year, indicating this trend is alive and well.

While in 2013, people just wanted to know how to twerk, this year brought more interest in topics such as Ebola, Robin William’s death, the World Cup and Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Scammers used all these searches to target high numbers of victims on Facebook, Twitter and via traditional e-mail spam.

Celebrity deaths tend to dominate Google's year-end list as well, and we predict scammers will continue to exploit the names of any deceased celebrity.

Malvertising on social networks

Malvertising is on the rise, with almost one in three ad networks serving this repackaged e-threat, according to Bitdefender research. Facebook’s ad platform also hosts fraudulent and malicious ads from web categories that seem to copy spam patterns. In 2015, users should be cautious of malvertising, as it will become more than simple click-fraud.

Bitdefender advises users to keep in mind both old and new e-threats that might interfere with their social media experience in 2015. Users should also keep their security solutions updated on all Internet-connected devices, avoid signing in from unsecure hotspots and report all suspicious social media activities.

Catalin Cosoi is chief security strategist at Bitdefender 

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