Millions of people worldwide use online platforms to stay connected with one another. From professionals interacting on Linkedin to long-distance relatives sharing updates on Facebook, many of us share a vast amount of personal data and content online. But with this comes risk, and cybercriminals are targeting our favorite platforms to use our data for nefarious reasons and leverage online crimes. But which platforms and apps are risking their users’ privacy the most?
According to new research by Techshielder, Meta platforms– including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp – collect the most information about their users, with all apps ranking among the top five for worst user privacy. Facebook was revealed to store the most information on its users, collecting 70% of all possible data points, followed closely by Whatsapp, which collects 67%. While these apps collect basic login information, such as names and email addresses, they also have a worryingly large insight into the rest of our devices – from knowing how long we spend on them to storing all our private conversations.
The research revealed that Meta platforms collect the most information about their users and that they are among the most frequently hacked. The study analysed the search volume of hacking terms about the apps and found that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp had the highest number of monthly searches worldwide. “Facebook hacked” alone generates a huge 550,000 searches on average, suggesting that people across the globe are falling victim to cyberattacks when using this app.
This comes as no surprise, however, as Meta platforms have continuously come under fire for their level of user privacy. From the Cambridge Analytica Scandal in 2018 to the report last year, which claimed 533 million users had their data stolen, the platform clearly has a low level of security. However, Facebook has recently published on their site that improving the privacy and security of the platform over the next decade is of huge importance to them. One of their first steps is trialing end-to-end encryption on their messaging platform – but will this be enough?
Whilst there are steps that platform developers must take to ensure our personal data and information are protected against potential threats, there are also a few things that we, as users, can do. Techshielder’s VPN expert Lasse Walstad states;
“When using online apps and platforms, you must stay up-to-date with your account activity. If your password suddenly changes, you’re locked out of your account, or unusual activity occurs, such as people you don’t follow beginning to flood your feed, you should immediately take steps to protect your account, such as changing your password and contacting the platform support team.
Even if you are not yet convinced your account has been hacked, you must take action before a cybercriminal can and make it as difficult as possible for them to gain access. Make sure you choose strong passwords that contain a mixture of numbers and letters, only accept friends or follow requests from people you know, and only click on links from websites you recognize. All of these steps will make it harder for your account to get hacked and ensure that you remain the only person with access.”