Social Media is a Criminals Playground

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Robert Siciliano

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Social media has become a playground for adults, teens, and tweens.

And like on any playground, when you hit the jungle gym or horseplay on the seesaw, there is always a chance that you may go home with an egg on your forehead.

Or, if you are like me, a broken collarbone.

Twitter and Facebook have become the most popular sites for frolicking, and the most popular sites for identity thieves — the bullies in the playground. These criminal hackers make social media very dangerous.

They are attacking these sites to get at you, the end user. Users’ computers can become infected after users click links that appear to be safe, but actually prompt a malicious download or lead to a spoofed website.

New worms and viruses are infecting social networking websites every day. As these sites expand, they adopt new technologies that sometimes create holes through which they can be attacked.

Social networking websites’ open nature allows users to upload content including files that may contain “scripts,” or code, designed to infect the site. Participating in user-submitted surveys, quizzes, and other applications may result in spam or stolen data.

The websites themselves host millions of users and they simply can’t protect every user.

New technology is developed at a rate that vastly outpaces the security necessary to keep those technologies bulletproof. Essentially, you’re on your own.

While it is rare for a user to post Social Security numbers, which can directly lead to identity theft, on a social networking website, these websites or their users’ actions can compromise PCs, which does ultimately lead to identity theft.

Always make sure to run antivirus software, such as McAfee Total Protection, and invest in McAfee Identity Protection, which monitors your Social Security number and several other parameters of your identity.

Learn more about how to protect yourself at http://www.counteridentitytheft.com/.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss Facebook scammers on CNN. (Disclosures)

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