social networks used as back-doors by scammers for online fraud

Scammers and Social Networks go very well together. In a Wall Street Journal article entitled Web Scammer Targets Senior U.S. Executives is an amazing account of Mr Stewart’s chase for the uncovering of a Romanian scammer, complete with his extraordinary biography (a guy who 15 years ago was mopping the floor in McDonald’s restaurants and had barely a dime and couldn’t even buy a computer, and has now become a world-leading expert in computer security).

Social networks used as back-doors by scammers for online fraud

Social networks used as back-doors by scammers for online fraud
Social networks used as back-doors by scammers for online fraud

In the article, Mr Stewart explains one phase at a time how he was able to retrace the steps of a scammer named Raynor, despite the decoys the latter had deployed in China. Unfortunately, the chase is not over, and Raynor is still on the run.

But this article is also very interesting for another reason. It describes how the scammer did get important information from top executives from online social networks like facebook or linkedIn. This poses a very serious threat to the development of Web 2.0/3.0 and collaboration on the Internet. Collaboration/wikinomics imposes transparency, whereas security is just the other way round. If harmful wrongdoers are using social networks to gain important information and then compose very elaborate phishing scams to steal personal details and money from senior executives, the latter will eventually cease to use social networks to exchange data in a transparent manner.

Social networks and scammers

Unfortunately, I think it must be very hard to prevent such things from happening since there is virtually no sure way of ascertaining the authenticity of personal details in such social networks sites. Lastly, the article gives important information regarding the categories and the percentages of data which is stolen online (see diagram).

WSJ article on Web scam targeting senior executives

Yann Gourvennec
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