When you think of fraud and identity theft on the internet, the first thing that typically comes to mind is stolen credit cards, not stolen Facebook profiles. In the fraudulent black markets that proliferate in private ICQ rooms and underground web forums, credit card information is currently trading for around 37 dollars per account according to Ecommerce Journal. Facebook profiles are trading for just over 1 dollar.
If you are looking for the “big bucks” in the black market selling stolen credit cards may still be the best way but you would imagine that it’s easier to get someone to part with their Facebook password than their credit card data. This is also how viruses like the ongoing Koobface virus stand to profit from hijacking users’ accounts. Steal a few hundred thousand Facebook accounts and you are talking about serious cash.
Those Facebook accounts can also be used to profile individuals in order to target them for more deceptive scams, such as duping them into entering their credit card information. You can look at them as fraudulent sales leads. According to security experts this time of year is prime time for fraudulent activity online. Fraudsters need to buy their children gifts, right?
Taking steps to protect yourself from becoming the next victim has become a necessity. Those steps include everything from using a safe browser (such as Firefox which automatically prevents pop-ups and malicious scripts from running on your computer) to installing a security application on your computer. It also requires not clicking on suspicious links that your friends post on your Facebook wall as it may not really be them.
While Facebook and other social networks will hopefully tackle the Koobface virus soon, it’s better to play it safe when browsing the large social networks.
Koobface Virus image from Joshua Baer