Social media an inviting target for cybercriminals

Steve Almasy writes for CNN:

It’s your birthday. And thanks to your Facebook profile, everybody knows that. Your wall fills up with well wishes from hundreds of “friends.”

Sure, it’s nice to be noticed. But security experts are skeptical about whether sharing information, such as birthdays, with a broad audience is a bright idea.

“It’s all about providing the bad guy with intelligence,” said Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDtheftsecurity.com. “Back in the day, spy organizations planted someone on the inside to get proprietary data. Social media is the man on the inside. We’re giving away all the intelligence for free.”

Many people use their birthdate in passwords and personal identification numbers, and security questions often ask for it to resend a lost password. So broadcasting a birthdate could help cybercriminals pose as others as they log on to various Web sites, experts warned.

The same goes for pet names and the names of children. If your mother is a Facebook friend, her maiden name (a popular security question) is within reach of an identity thief.

The bad guys’ tactics

Malicious actors have different goals. Some are people who want Web surfers to click on links where they get paid to send people. Others hope computer users will enter passwords or Social Security numbers they can use to steal identities or money. And others would like to take over computers or Facebook identities…

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