Dispatches From The Geeks

News and Announcements from the MCS Systems Group

Social Networking Safety

Let me tell a couple of true stories of how social networking can be used to cause you and your friends harm.The first happened to a friend of mine. He’s sitting on his computer, browsing facebook, and he gets a chat request from a friend. This friend claimed to be in London, and needed money desperately as he had been robbed. My friend was smart enough to recognize this might not be legit, and started asking questions. Of course, because this guy had access to all the data in facebook, he could be fairly convincing in his answers (minus, of course, the lag time in looking up the information). As you may guess, my friend did not wire any money. Turns out this is a scam that’s getting more and more common.The second story happened to an acquaintance of this same friend. However, in her case, it was her account that was compromised. A Yahoo mail account, which was used to send mail to her friends asking for money. We don’t quite know how successful this one was. We do know the malicious user deleted all her e-mails from her account.Neither of these incidents happened at Argonne, just so you know.I tell you these stories to remind you that you need to be on your toes. In this day and age of social networking and information sharing, we’re putting a lot of information out there than can be used against us in many ways. I was startled when I visited pipl.com and searched for myself — all this information is out there, scraped off of webpages, social networking sites, Usenet… you name it. Someone armed with that information might be able to pull off a convincing job of pretending to be me. Convincing enough to scam someone else out of money or information they shouldn’t have.So be careful what you put out there. Keep your passwords strong, lengthy, diverse, and private. Don’t reuse them.Here’s a couple of links that were passed on to me today from ANL’s Cyber Security Program Office. The first is available on-site only, and is written by Mike Skwarek, the Cyber Security Program Manager and Deputy CIO for the lab. I recommend reading then, as there’s good advice in there.

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Written by Craig Stacey

May 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm

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