An overview of Google search patterns indicates that cybercriminals are most likely to target Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Facebook and Instagram also store most information about their users compared to other apps included in the survey.
Research published by TechShielder has reviewed ten popular apps in social, entertainment, and communication categories to determine which are most likely to be hacked and what types of user data they store are likely to be compromised.
The study argues that the average volume of Google searches each app receives about being hacked indicates their vulnerability to cybercrime.
In this regard, Facebook leads the pack, with monthly searches on "Facebook hacked" averaging 550,000. It is followed by 246,000 searches for "Instagram hacked" and 135,000 for "WhatsApp hacked."
Snapchat and Twitch wrap up the top five with 49,500 and 27,100 searches, respectively. The research also included Netflix, YouTube, Telegram, Twitter, and Facebook's Messenger app.
According to TechShielder, all the apps it reviewed store user email addresses and phone numbers. Most also collect names, credit card information, and cookies, which could provide an "in-depth" insight into the users' online lives.
All platforms share this information with third parties, which the research says exacerbates security concerns. "This poses a security risk as your data could be compromised by hackers via multiple access points," it reads.
Survey also found that Meta-owned products hold the most information on their users compared to other popular apps, with Telegram holding the least.
"It's unsurprising that Meta's apps are the most likely to be hacked as compromising these platforms would give cybercriminals access to a vast wealth of valuable information," TechShielder says.
It also found London to be a hacker "hotspot" where users of popular apps were most likely to fall victim to cybercrime. Mexico City and Paris were second and third. The research only included capital cities of the OECD countries.
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