Your Facebook Friend Does Not Really Need Money

    October 1, 2009

There has been an increase in the number of hijacked social networking accounts, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

One of the most common scams involves hackers planting malicious software onto a users computer. It starts by someone opening a spam email, sometimes sent from another friend’s hijacked account.

Internet Crime Complaint Center

When the spam email is opened it allows the cyber criminal to steal passwords for any account on the computer, including social networking sites. The hacker changes the user’s passwords and sends out fake messages claiming they are in some sort of legal, or medical trouble and request money from their social networking friends.

Facebook recently wrote about combating such money scams on its blog. The Facebook Security Page offers a number of tips to avoid being scammed.

The IC3 says cyber criminals are also using spam to promote phishing sites, claiming a violation of terms of service or some other issues which need to be resolved. Other spam attempts to get users to download an application or view a video.

Overseas Networking

Some of the messages look like they are sent from friends, making them seem legitimate. When the user responds to a phishing site by downloading an application or clicking on a video link, the electronic device they are using becomes infected.

Infected users are often unaware they are spreading malware by having links to infected sites posted on their profile without the user’s knowledge. Since the video link or messages appears to be from a friend, social networking contacts are more likely to click these links.

The IC3 offer these tips on how to avoid being scammed:

  •  Adjust website privacy settings. Some networking sites have provided useful options to assist in adjusting settings to help protect your identity.
  •  Be selective when adding friends. Once added, contacts can access any information marked as viewable by all friends.
  •  Limit access to your profile to only those contacts you trust with your personal information.
  •  Disable options, such as photo sharing, that you might not regularly use. You can always enable these options later.
  •  Be careful what you click on. Just because someone posts a link or video to their wall does not mean it is safe.
  •  Familiarize yourself with the security and privacy settings and learn how to report a compromised account.
  •  Each social networking site may have different procedures on how to handle a hijacked or infected account; therefore, you may want to reference their help or FAQ page for instructions.