Social networks help cyber-thieves with identity theft

Facebook details help cyber thieves compile your virtual identikit picture.

Fairly regularly, I get invited to join online social networks, especially Facebook. But at an instinctive level, I’ve held back, and maybe now with some justification: Research suggests that virtual worlds are a happy hunting ground for hucksters and fraudsters. Survey results published yesterday in the Fin Review (hat tip to Helene Zampetakis) found that:
* 41% of Facebook subscribers would give their personal details to strangers
* Increasing cases of subscriber info theft from sites including Second Life
* 2001 official Aus Govt estimates cost of cyber identity theft as $1bill – $4billion

The study by online security firm Sophos also found that 84% willingly disclosed their date of birth and 87% prepared to disclose their school and current workplace.
How many people have used birthday numbers as personal ID numbers for banks and online accounts? Or the name of their favourite band, dream car or even their pet? Such small details are useful snippets that help identity thieves to compile a virtual identikit pic of the online you. These innocent personal revelations help online criminal activity such as hacking, keylogging, phishing, spamming and viral infecting, the Fin article goes on to say.
WHAT THE?? Has commonsense completely gone outta the window! You wouldnt show your personal details off in a strange club overseas, but that’s virtually what you’re at risk of doing in cyberspace. Gartner’s Andrew Walls sagely reminds us:
“You have to be careful…as there are no regulatory structures in virtual worlds.”

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