The FBI has issued a warning for all those addicted to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace:
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), there has been an increase in the number of hijacked social networking accounts reported to http://www.ic3.gov.
One of the more popular scams involves online criminals planting malicious software and code onto to victim computers. It starts by someone opening a spam e-mail, sometimes from another hijacked friend’s account.
When opened, the spam allows the cyber intruders to steal passwords for any account on the computer, including social networking sites. The thieves then change the user’s passwords and eventually send out distress messages claiming they are in some sort of legal or medical peril and requesting money from their social networking contacts.
So far, nearly 3,200 cases of account hijackings have been reported to the IC3 since 2006.
Before you freak out, however, the FBI goes on to note that in general social networking sites are safe to use, and then offers some tips to help ensure you won’t fall prey to scams:
• Adjust website privacy settings. Some networking sites have provided useful options to assist in adjusting settings to help protect your identity.
• Be selective when adding friends. Once added, contacts can access any information marked as viewable by all friends.
• Limit access to your profile to only those contacts you trust with your personal information.
• Disable options, such as photo sharing, that you might not regularly use. You can always enable these options later.
• Be careful what you click on. Just because someone posts a link or video to their wall does not mean it is safe.
• Familiarize yourself with the security and privacy settings and learn how to report a compromised account.
• Each social networking site may have different procedures on how to handle a hijacked or infected account; therefore, you may want to reference their help or FAQ page for instructions.