10 Ways to Prevent Social Media Scams

The trouble with social media revolves around identity theft, brand hijacking and privacy issues.  The opportunity social media creates for criminals is to “friend” their potential victims in order to create a false sense of trust and use that against their victims in phishing or other scams.

It was big news when someone had their Facebook account jacked by someone who impersonated the victim, claiming to have lost their wallet in the UK and begging for a money wire. Now it’s old news, but it’s still happening.

  • Register your full name and those of your spouse and kids on the most trafficked social media sites. If your name is already gone, include your middle initial, a period or a hyphen. You can do this manually or by using a very cost effective service called Knowem.com
  • Get free alerts. Set up Google alerts for your name and kids names and get an email every time someone’s name name pops up online. You want to see if someone is talking about you or using your name.
  • Discuss social media with your kids. Make sure they aren’t providing their “friends” with personal information that would compromise their security or your families.
  • Monitor what they do online. Don’t sit in the dark hoping they are acting appropriately online. Be prepared to not like what you see.
  • Maintain updated security. Whether hardware or software, anti-virus or critical security patches, make sure you are up to date.
  • Lock down settings. Most social networks have privacy settings that need to be administered to the highest level.
  • Always delete emails you receive in social media from those who you don’t know. I’m messaged all the time by scammers and I’m sure you are too.
  • Don’t enter all the “25 most amazing things about you” or whatever other games that extract your personal information. Nothing good can come from that.
  • Always log off social media sites when you walk away from the PC. If you are ever at someone else’s home or on a public PC, this habit will save lots of aggravation. My sister-in-law, a Boston Bruins fan, left her Facebook open on the family PC. I changed her Facebook picture to the Philly Flyers and wrote Go Phillys! as her status. Bruins lost that night. I blame her.
  • Do not activate geolocation services that tell the world your every move. Nothing good can come out of allowing anyone in the world to stalk your every move.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Facebook Jacking on CNN. Disclosures.

1 reply
  1. Jack Taggerty
    Jack Taggerty says:

    Hi Robert,

    There was a recent article on cyber bullying and community involvement to prevent it here http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/04/13/317621_miranda.html. I am aware that cyber bullies rely on fear to intimidate their victims who generally won’t fight back. At the same time I know that mobile phones, laptops and computers can have monitoring by their third parties installed, by invitation or without (e.g.employers and parents).

    There would be a good case to have a robust public debate about whether victims of cyber bulling wanting protection should be able to ask for monitoring to be installed which would generate a message that this was the case at the instigation of the victim. An example of this would be schools and pupils where cyber bullying is common. It does of course raise the possibility in the Android Market for applications (and similar platforms)
    developing the message whether the monitoring service existed or not. I believe that this would change the culture of intimidation considerably by giving some power to the victim.

    What are your thoughts on this?


    Jack Taggerty


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