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admin2 On March - 9 - 2011

online data storage

It is so simple. You receive a seemingly innocent Facebook message from your friend saying, “Hey, check out these pictures I took at our staff Christmas party!” It sounds legit. You had been at the staff Christmas party with your friend who had mentioned it on his Facebook profile page. 

So you click on the weblink, fully expecting to see photos of the party. No such luck. The message had been sent from thieves who had hijacked your friend’s Facebook account. Clicking on the link introduces an infection to your computer which allows cybercriminals to take control of your Facebook account and all other accounts you access online. 

This process is called phishing, where the criminal attempts to acquire sensitive information from your computer by masquerading as a trusted friend or business using email or instant messaging.

Besides introducing viruses, phishing often purports to be from social websites, online payment sites, banks or IT administrators, trying to trick you into entering your private information at a fake website that is almost identical to the real one. 

Social networks contain a wealth of information for cybercriminals to use for their phishing activities. They learn about the staff Christmas parties and other details that make their emails or instant messages sound all the more plausible. 

Social networks also foster open communication among friends, which makes it easy for criminals.

Phishing is obviously paying dividends — the sheer volume of scams hitting everyone’s email inboxes and social network messages is unprecedented. Viral messages such as “LOL is this you?” more than doubled in the last three months of 2009 compared with the last three months of 2008.  Phishing lures are flooding us, all trying to trick us into clicking on an infectious link.

And if your PC becomes infected, it becomes part of a network of thousands of other infected PCs, called bots. These networks, called botnets, can execute all kinds of cybercrime, including corporate espionage. One massive botnet recently broken up involved more than 12 million infected PCs in 190 countries. It was called Mariposa. Infected links were spread mostly via Microsoft’s free MSN instant messenger service.

Social networks are popular with computer users because it allows for free and open communication among friends. This very attribute works to the bad guy’s advantage. 

So when you get a message purporting to be from a friend with a link to Christmas party photos or whatever, think twice about clicking on it. You might just inadvertently download a keystroke logger, for instance, which sends all your keystrokes to the hacker every hour. If you happen to key in your passwords and usernames on your online accounts, the hacker has them too. Hackers can find this keystroke logger for free on the Internet.

It just might be safer to ask your friend to email you the pictures if you want to see them. If he hadn’t sent the original message, it would tip him to what is going on. And if he had been the sender, he should be glad to share the photos with you.

Protect your precious information from hackers. Use online data backup to keep them in a safe, secure place. If your originals become corrupted or are destroyed, you can replace them using your backup copies. 

And we strongly urge you to consider carefully the private information you post on Twitter, MySpace and FaceBook. We also strongly urge you to use separate unique passwords so that if a hacker ever does get his paws on one, your other accounts won’t be vulnerable as well.

 

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