Monday, December 14, 2009

Social networking sites are targets for "pseudo-viruses": hacks that take over accounts to send spam

Brad Stone has an important front page story in The New York Times today, Dec. 14, “Viruses that Leave Victims Red in the Facebook”, link here. The HTML title online for the story is “For viral crooks, social networks are a prime target”. The problem seems to be that an account holder with an easily guessable password clicks on a link sent by a “friend”. People tend to trust messages sent by “friends”. Then hackers play with their accounts and crack their passwords. Then their accounts are “seized” and used to send spam-like messages to others. People could find their accounts closed for TOS violations for activity of hackers.

This activity, since it takes place within the social networking site, is not really a virus or worm, so it would not be caught by anti-virus protection the way an infected email attachment would.

Likewise, social networking site users would need to be conscious of security problems, especially wireless security, already discussed here, when managing their passwords on social networking sites.

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