Teenagers: A Social Media Threat Vector





Social media, social engineering, teenagers, cybercrime, susceptibility


Social media has grown significantly since the early days.  During this time, social media has grown to be a mainstay in most teenagers’ lives.  Whether they are on Facebook, Snapchat, X (formerly Twitter), or TikTok, teenagers have fully integrated social media into their lives.  Teens tend to post the ins and outs of their lives, sharing sensitive information about themselves to people they know, but also to strangers.  Although social media can be used for good, it can also be used by nefarious threat actors to take advantage of teenagers.  Social engineers count on their subject's desire to increase the number of virtual connections, which may increase the endorphin response received when they get “likes”.  As such, social engineers create targeting accounts and then try to get as many people to accept them as possible.  This increased footprint levitates the chances of a successful social engineering attack.  Add to this, when someone shares an abundance of information about themselves, social engineers use this information to target individuals with spear phishing attacks.  To further exacerbate the situation, social media uses algorithms to target its users and feed them with a significant amount of information that is not always vetted as being truthful.  When someone is influenced by disinformation, it increases their susceptibility by taking away their desire to verify the truth, but rather accept that what they are being told is the truth.  This case study examines the dynamics associated with teenagers and their susceptibility to becoming a victim of cybercrime and how social media perpetuates this situation.

Author Biography

Henry Collier, Norwich University

Associate professor and the Director for the Technology Programs at Norwich University’s college of Graduate and Continuing Studies. He received his Ph.D. in engineering security from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. His main research areas are human factors in cybersecurity and networking.