Scammers use social networks to look for victims
August 14, 2014
A woman whose son was attending U.S. Army Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, received an email from someone posing as a friend of her son's stating that her son's belongings had been stolen and that he needed money. The suspect offered to assist the parent, saying he had contacted someone at Fort Leonard Wood and learned her son had been kicked off the installation and needed $2,500 to be able to get back on the installation. The parent became suspicious, contacted her son's recruiter and discovered her son was on the installation.
According to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, the following security tips should be used when using social networking sites:
Limit the amount of personal information posted, such as birth dates, marital status and family information when using social networking websites. Do not post information that increase vulnerability, such as addresses, schedules and routine information.
Remember that the Internet is a public resource -- only post information that anyone can see. This includes photographs.
Be wary of strangers -- the internet makes it easy for people to misrepresent their identities and motives. Consider limiting access to family and friends on these sites. If interacting with strangers, be cautious about the amount of information provided or agreeing to meet them in person.
Be skeptical -- do not believe everything that's online. People may post false or misleading information about various topics, including their own identities.
Evaluate computer settings -- take advantage of a site's privacy settings. The default settings for some sites may allow anyone to see an individual's profile. Settings can be customized to restrict access to only certain people. Sites may change their options periodically, so review security and privacy settings regularly to make sure the choices are still appropriate.
Be wary of third party applications -- third-party applications may provide entertainment or functionality, but use caution when deciding which applications to enable.
Use strong passwords -- protect accounts with passwords that cannot easily be guessed.
Check privacy policies -- some sites may share information such as email addresses or user preferences with other companies. This may lead to an increase in spam.
Keep software, particularly the web browser, up to date. Install software updates so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities.
Use and maintain anti-virus software -- anti-virus software helps protect computers against known viruses by detecting and removing the virus before it can do any damage.