Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Criminals are harvesting and selling Facebook users' information

Facebook users 'easy prey'

Facebook users have become easy prey for criminals as more and more people share personal information on the social networking site, says a computer anti-virus company.

Criminals are harvesting and selling Facebook users' information, stealing identities, sending spam and planting viruses, according to AVG (AU/NZ).

People put themselves at risk every day by carelessly clicking on invitations sent by 'friends' to join groups or write on their wall. They put all their personal information including date of birth and photos on their page. They even respond to fake Facebook requests for security details.

To help people stay safe on Facebook, AVG gave 10 tips:

1. Think about who you add: accepting a friend request provides your new mate with access to posts, photographs, messages and background information about yourself. Perhaps go through your list of friends and think about who you really want accessing your stuff.

2. Check privacy settings: Facebook recently got a face-lift, changing default privacy settings. It's worth going through them again - you may be sharing more than intended.

3. Why are you on Facebook? Is it just to share photos? Keep in touch with people? Share links and updates of your activities? Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your profile. It could be better to cut down on information-sharing.

4. Be smart about your password: try not to use the same passwords for all your accounts. Think about the type of security questions you set and where you are sending your updates.

5. Be aware of where you sign in from: When signing in from a different computer, check that it doesn't store your e-mail address and password. It's easy to accidentally choose it to "remember you".

6. Be careful what you say: once status updates and comments are posted, anyone can see, copy, and post it elsewhere. Do you really want people to know you'll be home alone tonight or away on vacation next week?

7. Watch out for phishing attacks: there have been numerous attempts to get users' login and passwords by tricking them with fake Facebook e-mails. Never select any e-mail links asking you to reset your password. Always go directly to Facebook.

8. Take immediate action: If friends start receiving spam from you or status updates appear that you didn't make, your account may be compromised. Immediately change your password. If you can't log into your account, go to the Help link at the bottom of any Facebook page and click on "security" to notify Facebook.

9. Protect your mobile device: Many mobile phones have direct access to social networking sites, including Facebook. Be mindful about who has access to your cellphone and make sure you log off the sites.

10. Monitor suspicious activity: Watch out for suspicious activity on your wall, news feeds and Facebook inbox. Never click on a suspicious link. Look closely, if the link does not look authentic, don't click.

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