Your hacked Twitter account worth $1,000 to criminals

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twitter passwords hackedBe careful with your passwords and your information, because cyber-criminals are selling hacked Twitter accounts and passwords online for up to $1,000. The accounts and passwords are traded on hacker forums, with prices ranging anywhere from $82 for a Gmail account to $1,000 for Twitter accounts. The cybercriminals then use those accounts as stepping stones to infect others' computers with data-stealing malware.

The new malware, or malicious programs, are placed on Internet sites and in e-mails and when accessed take over a computer searching for banking passwords or financial information. The new malware seems to be generic spying programs that steal as much information as possible from victims, including passwords to Web-based e-mail and Twitter accounts.

Why? Because malware works only if people trust the sites or the e-mail senders (although many malware programs still get a lot of naive surfers.) By garnering numerous Twitter accounts with hundreds of followers, or e-mail accounts with hundreds of contacts, their malware operation has grown exponentially. Not only do they steal from one person, but they can steal from all of that person's friends, acquaintances and family.

Because Twitter accounts often use shortened-URLs for viewers to click -- which can also mask their true destination, like a malware-laden Web site -- it also makes them more attractive to criminals. Clicking a link and then being taken to a malicious site is often called "clickjacking" and there's little that can be done to prevent it.

The best prevention is to be wary of any suspicious messages, posts or links found anywhere on the Internet. Be leery of e-mails telling you to go to specific sites (and don't go to them) even if they're from a friend. Ignore e-mail or Twitter messages from people you do not know; they are likely phishing and looking for victims to scam.
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