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The Seven Deadliest Social Networking Hacks

Think you know who your real online friends are? You could be just a few hops away from a cybercriminal in today's social networks

You’d think security experts would be relatively immune from social networking hacks since, well, they’re security experts. But a recent wave of nasty hacks targeting security industry figures such as Alan Shimel of StillSecure and Petko Petkov of GNUCitizen, where their personal email accounts and other private data were raided and posted on the Net, have demonstrated that a determined attacker can even get to the experts.

Putting yourself “out there” with a social network presence basically leaves you open for all kinds of attacks, even personal ones. Just ask Sophos’s Cluley, who faced hate messages, death threats to his wife, and his photo being superimposed on some pornographic images after his Facebook photo hack. “They didn’t use my name,” he says, but all it took was someone to recognize his face.

Twitter, the microblogging site where members post quick updates on what they’re doing or comments to multiple “followers,” introduces a whole other element to social networking security -- physical security, experts say. “I never talk about where I am, who I'm with, where I'm going, or any other specific details,” RSnake says. “But that doesn't stop anyone else who knows that same information from doing that behind my back - maliciously or not.”

Sophos’s Cluley says posting too much information on Twitter, such as your whereabouts or trip plans, leave you wide open to things like burglary or stalking. “Twitter is a fascinating thing. To be honest, it could lead to all sorts of physical problems, such as physical theft…or jealous ex’s” tracking what their ex is up to, says Cluley, who “tweets” his blog titles. “When I post to my blog, I’m not saying ‘I’m at the supermarket.’ First of all, who cares? I much prefer to wait until I get back” from the store to say what I’m doing, he says.

And as Hamiel and Moyer demonstrated at Black Hat USA and Defcon 16, you don’t even have to have a social networking profile to be targeted. The two researchers were able to easily impersonate security icon Marcus Ranum (with his permission) on LinkedIn, the social network for businesspeople. Ranum doesn’t have an account, so the two basically lifted Ranum’s photo off the Internet and gathered information on him online and built a convincing phony Ranum profile. (See LinkedIn Hack Demonstrates Ease of Impersonation.)

They channeled Ranum so well that they amassed 42 LinkedIn connections within 12 hour, even duping Ranum’s own sister into friending the phony Ranum profile.

Next Page: 2) Spam or bot infections

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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