Social Media Scams On The Rise

In a just released announcement by social media giant Facebook, the California-based company has warned its users to watch out for one of the old “419 scams” that has recently resurfaced on the social media network.

According to Facebook, cyber-criminals have been posing as users, and asking their “friends” to urgently send them money as they’re stranded, and in sudden urgent need of cash.

Bogus Log-In Pages

Using false log-in pages that mimic the Facebook log-in, account names and passwords are collected. The con artists then log in as the users, assuming their online identity, and then send Inbox and Chat messages to the user’s friends list, asking for money to be sent to them, usually through Western Union, an established message and money transfer.

Facebook engineer Alok Menghrajani said in a blog post, “While the total number of people who have been impacted is small, we take any threat to security seriously and are redoubling our efforts to combat the scam.”

Facebook is apparently working with Western Union, (who have also released warnings about the scam), as well as police and e-mail services, in an attempt to catch those perpetrating the scam. They also report that they have improved their automated systems to combat it.

In his blog post, Menghrajani urged Facebook users to become “fans” of the social networking service’s security page, which offers advice about avoiding scams and reporting suspicious activity in the online community.

Twitter And Facebook Scams Increasing

In related news, security software vendors have announced that cyber-criminals are increasingly focusing their attacks on the hundreds of millions of social networking users, and loopholes in internet banking security systems.

Online research firm F-Secure said in its quarterly virus report that “as Twitter has grown in popularity, it has been increasingly targeted by worms, spam and account hijacking as criminals choose targets that are widely used, allowing them to target the greatest number of potential victims.”

According to Yuval Ben-Itzhak, technology chief of security software firm Finjan, “cyber-criminals continue to follow the money.” The firm also said that it expects the trend of forged on-screen bank statements, and faked log-in pages to continue increasing.

“With the combination of using sophisticated Trojans for the theft and money mules to transfer stolen money to their accounts, they minimise their chances of being detected,” Ben-Itzhak said.

Spam Increases Year On Year

Symantec MessageLabs, who also released its own quarterly report this month, has reported that spam in all email traffic has increased from 81% a year ago, to 88.1% in the third quarter of this year, with botnets, (networks of computers hijacked by malicious code without their owners knowledge), responsible for 87.9% of all spam.

These botnets are used for identity theft, spamming and other cyber-crimes.

“Over the past year, we have seen a number of ISP’s (Internet service providers) taken offline for hosting botnet activity resulting in a case of sink or swim and an ensuing shift in botnet power,” MessageLabs analyst Paul Wood said in a statement.

“However, this won’t always be the case as botnet technology has also evolved since the end of 2008 and the most recent ISP closures now have less of an impact on resulting activity as downtime now only lasts a few hours rather than weeks or months as before,” Wood said.