Criminals on Social Networks

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The hugely popular social networking sites like Facebook & Twitter have become stunning targets for phishing & scamming assaults as online criminals follow the latest Net trends that are attracting the most users.
The latest criminal action against social networking sites including Facebook & Twitter was reported by the F-Secure Response Lab on Friday. Pro-Georgia blogger Cyxymu’s accounts were targeted by a widespread DDoS (distributed denial of service) assault, causing millions of users of Facebook & Twitter to experience issues with the sites slowing down or being offline on Friday.
Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure says: “Although this assault was targeted at a specific person, it affected the whole community. They may never know who was behind the Cyxymu assault, however they had access to significant bandwidth.”
Communication through Facebook is all about personal connections & communities of friends. It involves a high level of trust. When you get a message on your Wall from one of your Facebook friends, it’s different to receiving an anonymous e-mail or spam message. It is exactly this trusted surroundings – & the 250 million users – that makes Facebook such a tempting target for criminals. Phishing & financial scams are based on making a false sense of trust with the target of the assault, enabling the criminals to gain access to valuable information or direct financial gain.
Sean Sullivan, Security Advisor at F-Secure says: “Weak passwords provide a common way for criminals to hack in to social networking sites. Their aim is to harvest contact lists, phone numbers & other information which they can sell to spammers or use in targeted assaults to make money.”
The destroy caused by a hacked Facebook account is all the greater if the same password is also used for the user’s e-mail account. This means the criminals can basically reset all the user’s online passwords, get information about banking details & find answers to security challenge questions. Sometimes the answers to personal security questions, for example middle names, house addresses & pets’ names, may even be found directly on Facebook.
“As the Facebook user name consists of an e-mail address, it is essential that different passwords are used for logging in to personal e-mail accounts & for logging in to Facebook & other social networking sites. It’s as well as a lovely suggestion to have different primary e-mail, business e-mail, social network e-mail accounts,” Sullivan advises.
This year there has been a series of bogus messages on Facebook from “friends” asking for financial help. Facebook users ought to always treat such requests with caution & make a thorough identity check before sending any money, even when the messages appear to come from a member of the relatives or other trusted person.
“There is as well as a positive security aspect to the social networking sites. Unlike classic e-mail scams like chain letters which can run for years, the wisdom of the networked Facebook crowd means that users can quickly become aware of the latest security threats. The community is lovely for publicizing useful security information & for taking quick self-corrective action against security vulnerabilities,” says Sullivan.
Tips for safer social networking
– ALWAYS have separate & secure passwords for your e-mail & social networking sites.
– In case you become aware of a Facebook security issue, post about it on your Wall so the community can take preventive action.
– Pick your friends wisely & have a security guru among your friends!
– In case you are on Facebook, Fan the “F-Secure” page to get the latest news

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