Cyber-warriors are individuals that engage in cyber-warfare for either of three reasons; religious beliefs, patriotism, and personal issues. Depending on their convictions and roles, they either defend or attack computer security systems. In the contemporary world where technology is part and parcel of the socio-economic and political systems of the international community, cyber-warriors use social media sites as weapons. Examples of the sites are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, among many others. Social media websites allow users to adopt electronic communication and share content online. It does not have geographical limitations. With the widespread adoption of the internet in the international society, people are increasingly using social media to communicate with family, friends, and even with strangers.
Thus, the kinds of information that people post are vulnerable to attacks. According to Porsche, the most popular social media sites in the world are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest, and Instagram. The recurring and shared theme among all the sites is that the user shares information about their lives. Even though the majority of them do not provide much information, the significance of the little that they share is enough for cyber-warriors. Relatively, there are pieces of information that users post online that the criminals can use to steal their identities or cause harm to both them and their families. Some of the vital information that is vulnerable and useful to cyber-warriors are full names, birth date, names of close relatives, vacation dates, addresses, places of visitation, risky or illegal activities, pictures of valuable goods at home, and many others. Cyber-warriors that have nefarious goals have the capability of using the pieces of information not only to cause physical or mental harm but also to steal physical property and identities.
Through hacking, accessing the profile of the user, or even “friending” them, the criminal can use the scant or much information of a person that exists on the social media site to commit their crimes. It is relatively easy for a person to fathom the habits of a social media site user, their history, or the familiar places or sites that they visit. It is also not a challenge to answer the security questions that the Facebook or LinkedIn profile sites ask. For example, there are common questions like the model of one’s first car or the mascot of the high school to which one went. Google is also not fully secure of the same. Other common questions are the maiden name of the mother, the name of the first pet, or even the name of a spouse. The answers to such questions are easy to get. Porsche states that cyber-warriors can get the answers to these issues through the tagged posts, share videos, photos, posts, and profile of the users.
Conversely, there are “geotaggs.” “Geotaggs” refers to data that the videos or photos that a social media user takes through digital cameras or smartphones that have GPS and embed in their locations. Since it is not easily visible, most people do not know that it exists. Therefore, they are unaware of the dangers that it poses. However, cyber-warriors can easily see it and accurately use it to determine the location of an individual. Notably, “geotagging” puts the safety and privacy of an online user at risk of the cyber-warriors who can use the information to harm them. It is clear that it is imperative for a person to safeguard the information that they share through the social media sites. Carpenter states that cyber-warriors have the skills to find out where a person stores the critical data. The author also reveals that public Wi-Fi networks can also be sources of attacks because the criminals have the capabilities of uploading viruses through them.
Social networks contain an enormous amount of information. An evaluation of a user’s profile can reveal their full names; dates of birth, schools attended, relationships status, and even places of work. Further research can show hobbies, interests, the circle of friends, and even family relationships. When cyber-criminals or cyber-warriors harvest such data, they can use it to answer the security questions to gain access to sensitive services and even steal identities. One good example is the online banking sites that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. It is important to note that the information that the criminal gets is important to pass the security questions that e-commerce accounts and other sensitive services that pause threats to a person need. A fraudster does not require special tools or sophistication to use this personally identifiable information (PII). Nonetheless, the level of technology that exists in the current international society provides the criminals with tools and methods that enable them to automate such tasks.
The world is first pacing. As the technology evolves and various innovations make it easy for cyber warriors to commit a crime, people also need to be vigilant of the kind of information that they post on social media. The necessity for the need of protection of online information, particularly on social media arises from the many cases that the world continues to witness of both individuals and corporations losing significantly due to cyber-attacks. Smartphones, iPods, iPads, and computers make people incredibly vulnerable to cyber evils. Nefarious cyber-warriors use the information that they have on social media sites to gain access to sensitive information and even steal identities. In addition, there are many multi-million dollar cases of cyber crimes that result from the information that people post on social media. Social media is one of the tools and weapons that cyber-warrior employ to commit a crime. It is a significant weakness in modern cyber space. Through information mining and geotagging, it can either bring chaos or justice in cyber space.
- Carpenter, Siri. “Battling Cyber Threats.” Science 11, no. 5 (2010): 10-26. doi:10.1126/science.caredit.a1000115.
- Porche, Isaac. “Emerging Cyber Threats and Implications.” Testimony 45, no. 3 (2016): 1-14. doi:10.7249/ct453.