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Friday, July 3, 2009

Identity theft and Facebook

Identity thieves are using Facebook to steal personal information. Below is part of an article appearing on Reuters UK:

"Cybercrime is rapidly spreading on Facebook as fraudsters prey on users who think the world's top social networking site is a safe haven on the Internet.

Lisa Severens, a clinical trials manager from Worcester, Massachusetts, learned the hard way. A virus took control of her laptop and started sending pornographic photos to colleagues.

'I was mortified about having to deal with it at work,' said Severens, whose employer had to replace her computer because the malicious software could not be removed.

Cybercrime, which costs U.S. companies and individuals billions of dollars a year, is spreading fast on Facebook because such scams target and exploit those naive to the dark side of social networking, security experts say.

While News Corp's (NWSA.O) MySpace was the most-popular hangout for cyber criminals two years ago, experts say hackers are now entrenched on Facebook, whose membership has soared from 120 million in December to more than 200 million today.

'Facebook is the social network du jour. Attackers go where the people go. Always,' said Mary Landesman, a senior researcher at Web security company ScanSafe.

Scammers break into accounts posing as friends of users, sending spam that directs them to websites that steal personal information and spread viruses. Hackers tend to take control of infected PCs for identity theft, spamming and other mischief."

As always, the best advice to avoid having your identity stolen is to use your common sense and not fall for scams. Not that common sense alone will prevent your identity from being stolen but it will help protect you from phishers such as those referenced by this article. For the rest of the article, see http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE55T6KU20090630.

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