Social media is a fun, convenient way to keep in touch with friends and family or meet new people. One of the most basic promises with social networks is that the person you are interacting with is real. Sadly, that is not always the case. Today we’ll discuss the best ways to protect your platform and its users from fraudsters.
The Problem with Fake Accounts
For the purpose of this article we will define a fake account as any account that is created (by a human or otherwise) purely for fraud. What makes fake accounts so dangerous on social media, is that they can act in a certain way with REAL users and influence their behavior. The first thing that might come to mind is ‘catfishing’ when a real user believes they are interacting with a real user, but it’s actually a fraudster pretending to be someone else for personal gain. On a macro level, fake accounts can be used to sway public opinion, or spread false narratives and propaganda.
The spreading of fake news happens when mass created fake accounts try to trick an algorithm by ‘liking’ a post (sometimes the post has even been written by bots) pushing an article to the front page. Then real users start to see this post and they begin engaging with it and sharing it with their own network. This is an example of how Russia ‘hacked’ the 2016 US Presidential elections. Beyond electing certain politicians, fake news can become incredibly dangerous. Consider how misinformation could be weaponized in the current COVID-19 crisis. Your platform certainly doesn’t want to bear the responsibility of the consequences associated with a global pandemic.
Social Engineering Attacks
In the previous section, we covered larger group attacks. Individuals can also be targeted on social platforms in the form of social engineering attacks. A social engineering attack occurs when a fraudster acquires personal information about you and then uses it to gain access to your account. The most famous version of this is the SIM Swap attack. SIM Swap occurs when a fraudster calls your telco provider and asks them to port your number over to a device that they control.
How is this possible? Perhaps they found your name and address on a social network. You may have even come across the fraudster on a dating site and given them the information yourself. In any regard, by porting your number to their device and triggering 2FA cycles, the fraudster can gain access to your most personal accounts including bank, crypto and email. There are countless stories of victims who have lost millions overnight.
Additionally, individuals can be susceptible to synthetic identity fraud (where a fraudster builds fake credit using your information for years before cashing out big) or your garden variety bulk phishing attacks. Brute force account takeover is always a concern as well. Obviously, this is a massive problem for social platforms. Fortunately TeleSign can help.
Onboarding Protection for Social Networks
The best way to solve the aforementioned problems is to prevent them before they ever happen. Fraudsters do not use legitimate credentials when registering for accounts. They use recycled numbers, VOIP or internet phone numbers to dodge verification. While using only 2FA might leave platforms vulnerable, TeleSign offers a wholistic onboarding protection solution for social networks. This includes phone-based SMS verification as well as digital identity.
By leveraging digital identity TeleSign can tell you what type of phone number your potential registrant is using, what type of device they are on. Is this a post-paid or pre-paid phone? Where was the SIM Card registered? Does the name on the device match the name on the account? By looking at dozens of pieces of meta-data and using our proprietary algorithms, TeleSign can build a risk profile on this potential user and make a recommendation on whether you should onboard them to your ecosystem. Fewer fake accounts lead to fewer problems for your users. No new headaches for you. The best way to stay secure is to make sure every person on your platform is there for the right reasons and not just to cause chaos.
TeleSign has been connecting and protecting online experiences for over 15 years. We support 21 of the 25 largest web properties in the world and we’re prepared to help you. Contact TeleSign now and learn more about how to keep your platform safe.