The word friend is defined as “one who entertains for another such sentiments of esteem, respect and affection; an intimate associate.” But that definition seems to have gone out the window with the advent of social networks.
Studies show 50% of people will accept a Facebook “friend” or LinkedIn invitation from a total stranger. So do you consider the hundreds of friends on these social networks as people who you have an intimate affection for? Probably not.
This is why fraudsters have set up 15 million fake profiles that are used for spam and fraud. Just about anyone can set up a fake account on just about any website. Facebook and other social media sites are popular targets due to the amount of users on those sites and how much time people spend on those sites.
People share an awful lot of information including their birth date, high school, email, phone number, pet’s name, kids’ names, maiden name and more on social networking sites. The fraudsters then use this information to send you phishing messages to try and get access to your accounts and passwords. And, since these messages appear like they “know” you, they seem more legitimate and you are more apt to trust the message.
What can you do? Be a good friend to yourself and your true friends. Protect yourself.
Only friend people you know in the physical world, ones that you like and trust.
Beware of offers with the word “free” or that sound too good to be true.
Stop and think before you click. Be wary of links in chat, text and email as this is one of the main ways hackers can “hook” you.
Protect your devices. Use up-to-date, comprehensive security software on all your devices that has a safe search plug-in to protect you from going to malicious sites.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! (Disclosures)