ASIO Explains Why You Should Think Before You Link

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Australia’s cyber intelligence agency ASIO has released a set of guidelines explaining why you should always think before you link, reminding us of the importance of cyber security best practices to stay safe online.

The term ‘cyber threat’ is becoming increasingly familiar. The phenomenon has accelerated due to the rapid growth of social media, and virtually all aspects of our lives are moving into a digital format. Individuals are at greater risk as they click on almost all the links they see. They do not realize the cyber threats involved in the simple act of clicking links, even though the risks are severe.

In response, ASIO has reminded Australians of the need to think before you click a certain link or ma while providing a set of guidelines to stay safe from cyber threats online. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has recently launched the “Think Before You Link” campaign to raise awareness of social media threats and the variety of techniques that scammers and hackers deploy to access our sensitive information and that of our employers and even government institutions.

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ASIO hopes to educate the general public, high profile citizens, current and former security clearance holders to understand the signs of a malicious approach online and do the best cyber security practices well-known and accessible to the Australian public.

ASIO Explains Why You Should Think Before You Link

In today’s world, as social media use rapidly grows, so too online threats. To reduce these cyber threats, individuals must be aware of what they are doing in terms of their browsing and how it relates to cybersecurity. No one is safe and protected in the current century’s cybercrime world, which means we need to be vigilant about the threat landscape and our own practices online.

ASIO is appealing to its people to “Think before you link” with unknown people or profiles and ensure that you do not share any of your professional or personal information online. Foreign spies, hackers, scammers other criminals may use it to identify and then target that information collected against you.

“Digital freedom stops where that of users begins… Nowadays, digital evolution must no longer be offered to a customer in the trade-off between privacy and security. Privacy is not for sale; it’s a valuable asset to protect.”
― Stephane Nappo

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What is a Social Cyber Threat?

A ‘social cyber threat’ involves humans using both social engineering and technology to hack personal information. Their targets are humans and the society that binds them, and they deploy several manipulative and convincing techniques to obtain the personal details of strangers online.

For instance, if a stranger reaches out to you online, asking you to connect them on Facebook, you might think they’re a genuine person and can voluntarily share your personal information; later, they can come back to attack your network, steal your identity or access your financial information with a few small, seemingly innocent and unconnected pieces of personal information… that you’ve supplied.

Social threats are growing because of the rise in online platforms’ usage, particularly during the pandemic. Individuals need to ask themselves if they really know whom they are talking to. These cybercriminals can use your open social media profiles and pretend to be your friend and attack and threaten you with your own information.

In the UK’s “Think Before you Link” Campaign, authorities explained that “criminals and hostile actors may act anonymously or dishonestly online in an attempt to connect with people who have access to valuable and sensitive information.”

They often do this by acting as recruiters or talent agents who will approach individuals with enticing opportunities when their real intent is to gather as much information as possible from the target. The consequences of engaging with these profiles can damage individual careers, as well as the interests of your organization, and the interests of your national security and prosperity.

“To competently perform rectifying security service, two critical incident response elements are necessary: information and organization.”

― Robert E. Davis

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How to identify Social Cyber Threats?

As we continue to connect aspects of our lives to the internet and use social media as a means of networking and even working, we will continue to face more challenges in 2021 and beyond. Social media and online networking have changed how we connect with friends and build our own professional lives. While social networks play an important role in keeping in touch with our family and friends, they can also provide the perfect avenue for a cyber threat- if not used with caution.

Whatever the networking platforms individuals use to connect with their friends and family, they must be aware of these social threats. A harmless ordinary post update on social networks and new contacts can give cybercriminals – and foreign agents – a chance to steal your identity or discover important data they can use against you. Seemingly innocuous pieces of information on your social media profile can be pieced together to paint a remarkably detailed portrait of exactly who you are.

While surfing social media, individuals must consider carefully what information about them is available online and how this could be targeted against them and their organization. So, you have to double-check your activity on social networks. If that information is not assessed properly, it could harm you, your friends, employer, and, ultimately, Australia’s national security.

Securing social networking accounts

As per the ASIO, individuals must keep working for the security of corporate and personal social networking accounts:

  • Use a strong passphrase and multi-factor authentication where possible.
  • Do not share passphrases for social networking accounts.
  • Try not to store passphrases for social networking accounts in emails or documents.
  • Never elect to remember passphrases for social networking accounts when offered by web browsers.
  • Avoid configuring social networking accounts to sign in automatically.
  • Always remember to sign out of social networking accounts after use.
  • Do not access social networking accounts from untrusted devices in internet cafes or hotels.
  • Use lock screens and a passphrase on devices that have access to social networking accounts.
  • Always use updated software.
  • Remember to close old social networking accounts.

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