11, Apr, 2024

Mumbai: Two-factor authentication can protect you from ID fraud

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In the third part of our social media hacking series, leading cyber experts and psychologists engaged with mid-day to discuss the increasing occurrences of social media breaches. Specifically, they drew attention to the significant obstacle presented by the extensive utilisation of AI, which leverages data from numerous breaches to predict users’ passwords.

The experts emphasised the vital need for action from major tech platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, urging them to implement similar AI methodologies to combat hacking attempts. They also highlighted the importance of enforcing two-factor authentication across these platforms, stressing its efficacy in enhancing the security of users’ social media profiles against unauthorised access.

AI-powered hacking

Leading cyber expert, Ritesh Bhatia, founder and director of V4WEB security, delved into the intricacies of cybersecurity, highlighting the transition from traditional hacking methods reliant on social engineering to the increasingly prevalent use of AI by cybercriminals.

“Many of the apps we use today for online shopping, food delivery, and groceries store our personal data. Unfortunately, our information can end up on the dark web when a data breach occurs. AI algorithms analyse our password patterns from the breached data to potentially crack passwords for our social media accounts. Even if we don’t reuse the same password, the AI can decipher patterns in our password choices,” Bhatia said.

Ritesh Bhatia, founder and director of V4WEB security

Bhatia underscored the crucial role of two-factor authentication (2FA) in bolstering account security. “While strong passwords were once deemed sufficient, they are now easily bypassed by AI-powered hacking tools. 2FA has emerged as a critical defence mechanism, making it significantly more challenging for hackers to gain unauthorized access to accounts,”Bhatia added.

Bhatia urged intermediaries, such as social media platforms and financial institutions, to leverage AI technologies for proactive threat detection and prevention. Drawing on his own experience with a bank’s AI system flagging a potentially fraudulent transaction, he emphasised the importance of AI in identifying suspicious activities and safeguarding user interests.

Bhatia also expressed frustration with the lack of responsiveness from intermediaries like Facebook in addressing hack cases. “Because of their lack of cooperation in many hacking cases, I’ve ceased taking on new cases as I’m unsure whom to contact for assistance. These platforms must prioritise enhancing their AI-driven security measures and improving communication channels to effectively address user concerns and ensure platform safety,” Bhatia said.

Importance of 2FA

Another cybersecurity expert, Nikhil Mahadeshwar, founder of Cyber Secured India, is actively training city police officials in cyber investigation techniques. “I’ve dealt with numerous social media account hacking cases, including YouTube, where users with strong passwords were still targeted. Delays from intermediaries can worsen the situation. Two-factor authentication is now essential for protecting accounts, greatly lowering the risk of compromise. Some platforms offer video verification but require prior self-posted images. I recommend using advanced antivirus software and separate mobile numbers for social media, banking, and government identity to prevent sharing with marketing companies and minimise hacking risks,” Mahadeshwar said.

Sunny Nehra, Founder of Secure Your Hacks, highlighted the importance of two-factor authentication. “Two-factor authentication is crucial for account security today. Account breaches often result from common password practices like reusing passwords, downloading unnecessary apps, and using predictable patterns. Celebrities, especially those using their own domains, are frequent targets. Corporations also face challenges, with many experiencing hacks due to cybersecurity ignorance. Basic knowledge isn’t enough anymore; phishing simulation training is essential, and we offer it to companies to protect their data,” Nehra said.

“Without secure social media accounts, anyone can fall victim to hacking, sometimes leading to serious consequences like law enforcement involvement. I’ve seen many cases where panicked users seek help to regain control, but recovery can be delayed due to verification processes, especially if there are discrepancies with government IDs. Two-factor authentication is crucial, and using social media passwords elsewhere should be avoided,” said Yasir Shaikh, a city-based cyber expert, CTO, and founder of Macksofy Technologies Pvt Ltd.

Heightened anxiety

Nirali Bhatia, a cyberpsychologist and founder of CyberBAAP, provided a comprehensive analysis of the profound implications of social media on our lives. With social media’s rise, individuals blend their professional and personal personas, blurring real-life and online identities. Losing control over social media accounts triggers anxiety akin to losing vital documents, fuelling fears of identity theft or misuse of personal information,” Bhatia said.

Bhatia highlighted social media’s key role in modern communication, where much of our interaction, including updates on children’s activities through WhatsApp statuses, now takes place. Content creators, especially those with large followings, face significant challenges when their accounts are hacked, requiring them to rebuild their audience and credibility from scratch. “This process can be emotionally taxing, leading to feelings of despair and existential anxiety, especially among younger individuals who equate their online presence with their sense of self-worth,” Bhatia added.


Faizan Khan/ Mid-day / March 20, 2024

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