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Facebook Feeds Fraudsters

Article date: Fri, 02 Sep 2011 17:12 GMT

Facebook feeds fraudsters

Cyber-criminals are having a field day as Facebook profile are feeding them all the information that they need to steal identities. This is placing criminals one step away from our bank accounts and most personal details.

Consumers' Facebook profiles are revealing more information than they realise. Having names, addresses and dates of birth alongside clues to their passwords provides cyber-criminals with enough information to assume their identities and access online accounts.

A roundtable debate held by hosting specialist UKFast highlighted the dangers of handing out too much information through social networks.

The panel reacted to the recent trial of a cyber-criminal in Newcastle who stole more than £35,000 from his neighbours by befriending them on social sites Facebook and Friends Reunited. Using information from their profiles he was able to access and empty their bank accounts over a two-year period.

Nick Rhind, MD of CTI Digital, warned that the simplest of information can be the key to someone stealing identities. He said: "A lot of people are giving away more information than they realise, Facebook is the best example of this. People put lots of their personal information into their profiles - their address, birthdays and relations' names.

"People put the names of their pets on these sites but when you think about it, what is the security question for your bank account? What is the name of your pet? We have given all of this information out through Facebook."

Jonathan Bowers, communications director at hosting specialist UKFast, noted that our attitudes to online safety seem to have changed in recent years. He said: "We seem to have forgotten that not too many years ago there was a massive focus on privacy of our data but now we don't seem to care because sharing our information allows us to have a better online experience. But this can come at great cost."

The round table panel expressed concern over consumers' readiness to accept invitations to link to or 'like' business profiles, allowing them open access to our data.

Rhind said: "People receive requests for businesses to link to their profile page, for an offer or discount, and they see it as Facebook and something to trust. In fact, a third party has just asked for all of our information and we have said yes. They now know our name, age, where we live, what we like and all of our personal details.

"This not only opens us up to spam and junk-mail, it is handing our information over to people we do not know - but we trust because it is through Facebook. They could be anyone."

"People definitely need to be more cautious about who they allow access to their social network profiles," explained Neil Lathwood, technical director at UKFast. "Cyber-criminals do not need to hack into your account to see your details if you do not have the correct security settings. Locking down your profile, or only including the most basic of personal details is the only way to protect yourself online.

"We all need to check our security settings and be aware of the potential value of the information that we share."


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