Facebook and MySpace a breeding ground for identity thieves

The emerging popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace has created a breeding ground for predators and identity thieves, a security expert says.

The emerging popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace has created a breeding ground for predators and identity thieves, a security expert says.

Jody Melbourne, a security consultant at CQR Consulting, says instead of sending scams through email, thieves now target social networks to eliminate the threat of suspicion.

“They now contact you through sites such as LinkedIn, but now try to perhaps offer you a job but ask for money first,” he says. “The main point is that the same old threats are there, they’re just moving to the more profitable medium.

“These threats are coming from people you consider a friend. People are a little shy of things in their email, but they’re not using that same scepticism on things like Facebook or MySpace when they should be.”

Melbourne says these sites have now been forced to provide advanced security for users to secure their private information, but need to be doing more to protect their users, as the number of threats is “on the increase”.

He says the best defence users of these sites can use is common sense.

“It’s just things like keeping your friends to a minimum and being sceptical of the people you add to your network,” he says.

“You wouldn’t give your private information to someone on the street you’ve never met just because they asked for it, yet people are happy to add you as a friend even though they’ve never heard of you before.

“It’s the same with viruses and hacking, just being sure to have an active firewall, keeping antivirus up to date, and so on,” he says. “The user just needs to be aware of the risks.”

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