This Friday, Facebook will go public in one of the most anticipated IPOs in history. With more than 900 million users, Mark Zuckerberg's expanding social media empire has become a seemingly irreplaceable part of the online experience. Unfortunately, a byproduct of its success is that millions of Americans are far more at risk of falling victim to a number of cyber crimes.
To be sure, cyber crime is nothing new, but the social media revolution has made such crimes much easier to commit. People have "friends" they've never met; they make personal information widely available. And Facebook's hundreds of millions of users are a rich pool of targets.
According to an infographic published earlier this year by ZoneAlarm, a leading Internet security software provider, "roughly 4 million Facebook users experience spam on a daily basis, 20% of Facebook users have been exposed to malware," and Facebook receives 600,000 reports of hijacked log-ins every day.
Malware represents another growing threat for Facebook users, Dr. Kent Seamons, assistant professor in the computer science department at Brigham Young University said. "Hackers get malware on your machine and get tens if not hundreds of thousands of these machines under their control and then they rent them out to spammers and others," Seamons explains.
These rented accounts can then be used to advertise products illicitly or to request money from unsuspecting friends.
Ultimately, all social media sites make it easier for criminals to deceive their victims. According to a study published in Communications of ACM, a journal for computing professionals, the percentage of students that responded to a phishing email increased from 16% to 72% when the email included relevant social information about the target. Quite simple, scams that make it appear that a message comes from a friend make it more likely that the target will respond.
These are nine of the ways criminals use Facebook.
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