Are you a facebook user, or plan to be one? If so, be careful…be very careful. Facebook.com is a great medium to network with others around the world and communicate with friends. However, cyber criminals have found facebook too. They’re attracted to it because there are so many people using facebook; that the crooks hope to turn into victims. Okay…right about now you’re probably thinking; what’s this guy talking about, all I do is exchange messages with my friends, no harm in that.
A cyber criminal may take advantage of someone using Facebook by using a method called phishing (pretending to be a legitimate entity to lure you to a website or to complete a transaction) in which they send you a message which seems to be from one of your friends, or someone who wants to be your friend. A recent example was one sent from a friend with the subject: “Me, in the nude.” These messages, once opened, will sometimes inject a harmful malware onto your computer which has the capability to access your bank accounts, and/or gather enough personal information to enable your identity to be stolen. If you think you wouldn’t be a victim of this scheme; be honest, wouldn’t you open a message like the example above…out of curiosity? Especially if it were from a friend? Sure you would…all of us would. That’s what the cyber crooks are depending on, that’s why they call this genre of crime social engineering; preying on our natural tendency to be social…and human. So how do we avoid being a prey to these predators?
First, avoid placing personal information in your profile, account, or in your messages. Personal information such as your address, phone number, social security number (in the US), names of relatives, and names of friends will be used to impersonate you to a bank or credit card company to open fraudulent accounts and cards that will be charged to you. This is one form of identity theft.
Next, protect your facebook login, and be careful of the messages you open, especially from your friends. I’m not suggesting that you cease communicating with your friends, but if the subject of a message seems uncharacteristic of the friend it’s “sent from”, check it out with them by means of the phone or outside email to see if they really sent it. And likewise, be especially suspicious of a message from a stranger.
Another way to avoid being injected with malware is to use a good anti-virus and firewall security software suite to detect the malware before it’s placed on your computer. Oh, and make sure the security software is set to automatically update with the latest malware signatures so that you’ll be properly protected.
It’s a sad state of affairs, but the crooks follow the crowds…and the crowds are using Facebook. Unfortunately, many Facebook users feel the need to expose, to the masses, including the crooks; their most private feelings, personal information, and yes…photographs. And the crooks are salivating, ready to devour our information and assets for their next meal. Be careful…be very careful.
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