It seems as though nearly everyone has been on the receiving end of some kind of cyber-criminal activity. Whether it’s identity theft, picking up a virus from a questionable website or having a scammer contact you directly through an online ad, the forms of online deception are nearly limitless.
The reason is simple: The most profitable way to perpetrate crime on the Web is to catch average netizens, people like yourself, off guard.
As Facebook use has increased across all age groups and nationalities, cyber criminals have emerged with equal ferocity to take advantage of it. Facebook has a uniquely social quality that makes it particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks; that is, you don’t expect any trouble from your “friends.” When a Facebook friend request is accepted, unless privacy settings are specifically adjusted to restrict access, that person can view all of your personal information, including your dearest friends and associates.
This article will explore a few of the ways that Facebook has been exploited by scammers and cyber criminals in recent years, largely by preying on the trust that people tend to exhibit in this online arena. You’ll discover tips on the kinds of fake Facebook friend requests that can potentially harm your pocketbook and your online reputation.
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Avoid fake Facebook friend requests.
The most obvious way that cyber criminals take advantage of people on Facebook is the malicious friend request. You might think that simply refusing friend requests from people you don’t know would solve the problem. Unfortunately, things aren’t always so simple.
Many people have hundreds, if not thousands, of Facebook friends, and it’s common for them to accept new friends without a second thought — even if they don’t know them personally. This is particularly true for those who use social networking to promote themselves professionally. Requests from acquaintances of already distant Facebook friends are often automatically trusted. Their Facebook pages are promotional tools, after all.
What happens when you accept a cyber criminal as a friend? There are literally hundreds of potential outcomes, and none of them are pleasant:
- Your internet reputation could be defamed.
- Personal information could be stolen and identity theft perpetrated.
- Your list of Facebook friends could become fresh cyber targets.
Beware the hacked Facebook account.
Facebook accounts are easily compromised, often because passwords are too simple. And when a friend’s Facebook account is compromised, the damage can be swift. Why? Because attacks originating from people you personally know and trust are far more likely to succeed than random attacks.
A common scam is the “stranded in London” phishing attack, in which you receive a request for help from a stranded Facebook friend who has lost his or her wallet and passport. Though there are many variations to this kind of request, the gist is that you’re being asked to wire your friend a substantial amount of money in a short time. By the time you realize that it’s not your friend who has contacted you, it’s often too late.
Even more potentially harmful is the possibility of a compromised friend’s account sending you a link to a malicious application or download. This can result in phishing software being installed on your computer and the theft of your private Facebook information and even the personal data stored on your computer.
Identifying fake Facebook friend requests email.
Another way that the unsuspecting Facebook user may be targeted by criminals is not through the social network site directly, but through emails that replicate the emails received when a Facebook friend request is initiated.
Scammers sometimes send fake Facebook friend requests, which are actually emails pretending to be from Facebook, requesting personal information such as passwords. You may think that you would never give out your password over an email. Don’t breathe so easy. These emails may also contain malicious links that install malware on your computer, or direct you to sites that look the same as Facebook, but which will steal data from your computer.
With so many ways for cyber criminals to take advantage of your trust in reputable social networking sites like Facebook, it is fortunate that companies like Reputation.com have emerged in the past several years, dedicated to providing online reputation management services. With the purchase of an affordable bundled package such as MyPrivacy, you can rest assured that your online privacy is being monitored and protected around the clock by a team of online reputation specialists.