FBI Warns Social Media Users

cyber_crimeA new report out by the FBI, is warning users of the popular social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter that thieves are only one click away.  The report says there are becoming more and more cyber-thieves on social networking sites, which can provide them with a whole slough a personal information.  Nearly 3,200 hijacked accounts have been reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, and thousands more are expected to be unreported since 2006. 

The center which is an alliance between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center was established as a place “to serve as a means to receive Internet related criminal complaints and to further research, develop, and refer the criminal complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement and/or regulatory agencies for any investigation they deem to be appropriate.”

The FBI says that most of the attacks happen within a status update.  Users of Facebook, saw major attacks like this earlier this year.  Once hijacked for example, hijackers can post what looks like a simple link, or video to the friends of the attacked person which if clicked on will them just go into a spiral of hijacked accounts.  Simon Axten, an associate for privacy and public policy at Facebook said, “malicious actors are constantly attacking the site, and what you see is actually a very small percentage of what’s attempted.”  Facebook has sent out several warnings to users to not click links unless they are absolutely sure it is their friend posting and not a thief on the account.

Twitter has experienced a number phishing attacks this year and warned users to look over the URL to guarentee they were going to the right Twitter page.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that they received more than 72,000 complaints in 2008 regarding Internet fraud.  Those cases were them reported to local law enforcement agencies for further investigation.   Over $264 million were lost within these accounts averaging $931 a person. 

Because social media sites are growing and becoming more and more popular, they are very prone to Internet crimes.  And although these sites are trying to work on stronger security, it’s hard with the amount of users joining their sites.  Twitter for example has said from February 2008 through February 2009, the amount of users grew by nearly 1,382%.

The FBI has release a few ways to prevent users to protect themselves from Internet scams.  They recommend changing your passwords on a regular basis, take time to visit each sites privacy settings, limit to who has access your profile, learn how to report an Internet scam, and update your computer regularly with the latest security software.

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