Crooks targeting users on social Web sites such as Facebook


POSTED: Friday, February 06, 2009

Social networking Web site users beware.

Hackers are taking advantage of such Web sites, primarily Facebook, posing as a friend in an attempt to infect computers with viruses or steal users' identities, according to Better Business Bureau of Hawaii officials.

As of December, Facebook was reportedly growing at a rate of 500,000 new users a day. The social networking Web site estimates that users spend more than 2.6 billion minutes on the site daily.

Dwight Kealoha, chief executive officer of the Hawaii BBB, noted the social networking sites are popular because they keep people connected with others whom they know and trust.

“;Scammers know that they can take advantage of that trust by masquerading as friends, families and co-workers in order to easily disseminate viruses or steal personal information such as bank or credit card numbers,”; he said.

One scheme is a distress scam in which a Facebook user receives a message in their in-box from a friend saying they are in trouble and need money wired to them. The recipient does not realize their friend's account has been hacked and the message was sent by a scammer, according to the BBB.

Computer hackers also try to entice Facebook users to download computer viruses.




Staying safe on social networking sites

        Hawaii BBB officials offer the following tips on how to stay safe on social networking Web sites:

» Decline a request for friendship if you do not know the person.


» Be wary of messages from friends or strangers that direct the user to another Web site via hyperlink.


» Keep your computer's operating system and firewall software up to date.




-For more tips, go to www.bbb.org.