KOCHI: Crossing 10,000 followers on social media is no small feat and calls for celebration. However, accounts with such a large follower count are potential targets of hackers from China, Nigeria and Africa, as the Kerala cyber police has found.
The threat of foreign hackers came to light when a few social media influencers filed complaints that their accounts in Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms had been compromised.
In a majority of cases, hackers took control of the accounts by sending influencers an HTTP link asking them to register for a paid partnership programme or account verification process.
There were also complaints of fraudsters forcing influencers to record a video of a product and upload it to their social media accounts.
“I recently received an email saying one of my videos had violated Facebook’s community guidelines. It said I should go to the website using the link in the email to resolve the problem. I did. Nothing happened for several days. Then, my Instagram and FB pages were compromised. The hackers also removed the bank details that was linked to my page,” said vlogger Karthik Sankar who has over 9.67 lakh followers on FB. “For vloggers like me, social media accounts are everything as we build followers after years of hard work,” he said.
Cyber experts said over 250 such complaints have been received from social media influencers and celebrities in the past couple of months.
“It is more like phishing. Fraudsters who targeted celebrities earlier are now targeting influencers. They intrude into users’ account by sending them a link for ‘paid partnership’. We are getting several complaints,” said Jince T Thomas, Assistant Commander, Kerala Police Cyberdome.
Advocate Jiyas Jamal, a cyber security law expert and founder of Kochi-based NGO Cyber Suraksha Foundation, said lack of awareness among users is a major reason for their accounts getting compromised.
‘Be more careful in cyber world’
“Social media safety guidelines clearly say that users have to activate two-step authentication to secure their account. However, most ignore it. Users have to be very careful while sharing page authorisation with others,” said Jiyas who has helped several influencers recover their accounts.
Jince also said that compared to other states, social media influencers in Kerala were being targeted the most. phishing attempts were taking place in Kerala.
“People with even 1,000 followers may get hacked if they click on anonymous links,” he said.
Kochi city police commissioner C H Nagaraju said people should be more careful in the cyber world.
“Nowadays, several cases of cyber fraud, where an Amazon link is sent to people, is being reported. When we click the link, all our information gets compromised. People should be more vigilant while interacting with such links. The police have started a campaign to educate the public,” said Nagaraju.