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Welcome to the ProtectMyID Blog

Lessons and stories from the front lines of fighting identity theft.


Hacking on the Social Network

Oct 09


If you are like so many people out there obsessed with social networking websites – or even if you frequent them now and then – you might want to be extra careful when opening emails that you receive from them.

Recently, a member got a message from what appeared to be a popular online social networking site. When she opened the email, a virus removed all of the files from her computer including family photos, emails, and banking and credit card information.

Apparently, this is happening a lot. When I looked into it, I found tons of cases just like this. Here’s the basic scenario. The hackers send a fake notification to a user’s profile that says friends have written something on their wall. After clicking on the notification, the user is diverted to a phony social networking site and is asked to retype their user account, e-mail address and password. Thieves can then log into the real user’s account and have access to all their emails and personal data such as name, date of birth, password, etc.

Once they’re in, they can send emails out posing as you. In one extreme case I read about, the perpetrator pretended to be in trouble and solicited all of his victim’s friends for money.

Lesson learned: Be extremely cautious whenever opening any emails that you receive through the Internet. Scan each one before you open it and be sure that your computer is equipped with firewall protection, antivirus software and spyware protection. Also, be very careful about what information you include on your profile page and be smart about information you post. Lastly, always, always, always, use privacy settings to be sure that only people you know can obtain information about you.