Scams dressed in new social media clothing

August 6, 2009 6:49:26 PM PDT
Thursday's denial-of-service attacks on Twitter and Facebook show just how vulnerable even the biggest Web sites can be, and that means you are vulnerable, too.

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Twitter and Facebook are working hard to turn away well-orchestrated attacks. Although most users don't have the resources that those sites do, there is still plenty one can do. First, you have to know the issues and have a plan.

Social networking sites have changed the game, not just for consumers and businesses, but for the bad guys, too. With filters blocking most spam, scammers are migrating from e-mail to Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

"Since they are so popular there is an easy way for someone to get in," says Jay Chaudhry, CEO of Zscaler, a computer security company. "It is really a matter of having people click on something and once they click on something, now you are downloading something bad on the computer."

Something that can steal your information, or help thieves steal information from others.

So what should you watch out for? Well, it begins with your friends or followers. For example, Chaudhry shows us a Twitter account which is following no one and still has more than 7,000 followers.

And it gets more suspicious still.

"He has done two updates; he has done two postings," says Chaudhry. "Somebody who has hardly posted anything is being followed by 7,000? It is not adding up."

So watch who you deal with and watch out for old e-mail scams dressed up in new social media clothing.

In another scam, Chaudhry shows a site where they have created a screen that looks like a twitter screen. But in reality, it's not. It is a fake attempting to get its recipient to click on an attachment.

The basic lesson here is to not let your guard down. It is easy to think of social media sites as friendly places, but there could be thieves and hackers mixed in along with your friends.

TWITTER: Follow Michael Finney on Twitter at twitter.com/mfinney

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