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Many social media users land on the hacker network in a rush to get their profiles verified. Users of Instagram, one of the popular social media applications, are said to be mostly victims of fraud.
Experts from the Kerala Police Cyberdome say there are even fake websites designed to dupe social media users who want to verify their profiles with a blue badge. Since the initial verification process is a bit laborious and is done after meeting many parameters, many take shortcuts that often lead them into virtual traps, they add.
“A common trick is to send a link offering faster verification support for free. Naturally, someone who is in a hurry to get a verified profile without much effort will react quickly,” says a young cyber security professional who now supports the police cyberdome. According to him, the senders of such links can easily hack personal accounts if a person clicks on the link and replies to their message.
A senior police officer attached to the hi-tech cell of the Kerala Police says there are websites and online platforms that offer services to quickly increase the number of followers on social media pages. “Those who work with their virtual commands will certainly lose their personal data on their social media accounts in addition to facing other security threats,” he adds.
Experts at a prominent cyber security firm say that the clone login page that appears after clicking on the link is misleading because it resembles the original one. They emphasize that the best strategy is to rely only on messages from official accounts or Meta domains and to ignore emails or other communications from external sources.
Cops from the city’s cyber police station say laxity in reporting such incidents to the police has also landed many in crisis. “Instead of taking the appropriate legal steps to get the original account back, many simply try to create a new account. It is not a healthy practice,” says Dinesh Koroth, Inspector, Kozhikode Cyber Police Station. This, he said, could result in the misuse of data collected from the hacked account. Hackers are likely to create multiple fake accounts using the same data or upload them to other sites, he warns.
Due to the increasing number of hacking cases, the police is launching an online campaign to raise public awareness. Many have come up with their own personal experiences and strategies to avoid such incidents while using social media apps. Various tech firms have also supported the police to spread awareness using their official websites and social media pages.