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Using Domain Data to Address Social Media Threats

Posted on October 7, 2019
Using Domain Data to Address Social Media Threats

Social media bring people together – there’s no doubt about that. They have made it easy for anyone to like the posts of a stranger or follow someone who impresses you even if you haven’t the slightest clue regarding who he or she is. We essentially take down walls by inviting and welcoming others into our inner circles. Unfortunately, along with the sincere souls who only mean the best, entities with dark motives are also laying down their traps on various platforms.

How does WHOIS data fit into this scenario? Does it make sense at all to link the two together? The answer is one huge thumbs up and this post will explain why.

How Social Media Threats Work

Social media use is common in any workplace. It’s normal to receive a direct message (DM) from a “friend” or “connection.” That helps employees relieve stress. But there are also times when they would receive a DM from a supposed friend with a malicious link.

A typical attack launched through a social media platform involves:

  • Harmful shortened link: Cyber attackers take advantage of shortened links to trick victims into visiting a malicious site. Why? It’s not habitual for social media users to verify the nature of a site by closely scrutinizing its URL. They don’t normally take time out to check if it has ties to malicious activities. Add to that the fact that shortened links reveal less about the URL of the site in question.
  • A trusted connection: Let’s face it, we hardly ever doubt our connections’ intentions for sending links in messages. This is especially true for people we often interact with on social media. And so every time such a connection would send a link to, say, an interesting article we may want to read, we automatically click the link. Most times, we land on safe sites. But what if your connection’s social media account has been compromised? You might very well end up as a victim of a cyber attack.
  • An irresistible ruse: Social engineering is the core of every social media attack. People fall prey to phishing and other scams because they just can’t pass up on a really good deal. Huge discounts, freebies, and the like can tempt even the most tech-savvy users into giving out personally identifiable information (PII). The bad news is, they get nothing apart from becoming the next cyberattack victim.

Hackers know that everyone wants to connect with others, which they see as an opportunity for exploitation. They know that the trust between friends and co-workers can be absolute so they pretend to be one when they launch attacks that prey on the trust factor.

How Can Domain Data Help Thwart Social Media Attacks?

Companies that allow the use of social media may benefit from obtaining access to a domain database — a comprehensive and fairly accurate source of threat intelligence. It can enhance intrusion detection and security monitoring when integrated into a company’s IT security and threat detection systems whether in-house or through third-party tools or providers, which include:

  • Security information and event management (SIEM) software: Domain data can be integrated into SIEM software to unmask hackers. Logs can be crosschecked with WHOIS records to spot inconsistencies in who an attacker claims to be and what his domain records show.

  • Managed security service providers (MSSPs): MSSPs can enhance risk assessment, intrusion detection, and vulnerability scanning systems and processes by integrating a domain database as an information source.
  • Security operations centers (SOCs): A company’s SOC can integrate domain data into its intelligence sources to identify perpetrators behind attacks or detect intrusion attempts. Staff can also use it to verify the domain details of any message sender even if they seem friendly or harmless before clicking on links or responding. This can help secure the organization from BEC and other attacks.

Tips While Navigating Social Media

As social media use is extended to the workplace, hackers will try their best to blend in. Here are some best practices against social media threats:

  • Check before you ‘like’. Domain data may reveal more information about contacts, all you need to do is take a closer look.
  • When in doubt, unfollow. Trust your instincts but let domain data confirm your doubts.
  • Keep a record of dubious characters. List all confirmed malicious users down so you won’t forget who to avoid.
  • Don’t fall for sweet promises or enticing rewards. Think before clicking on any link to a once-in-a-lifetime offer.

These are just a few things to keep in mind while we navigate the tricky landscape of social media. As we pointed out, some people just might not be what they seem to be, so choose your friends well. And if that doesn’t do the trick, try downloading a reliable WHOIS database.

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