facebook-connect A new scam has hit popular social networking websites like Facebook. Hackers steal people’s user-names and passwords by using complex software or by “phishing” (sending links to fake websites masquerading as trusted ones, which ask for and collect login and password information) and then use their identities to make money. The hackers will usually ask friends to send them money, promote products for their own gain, or just cause trouble for the user.

Twitter users are also vulnerable to this scam. After getting your login information, a hacker will offer your followers a link to a $500 Victoria’s Secret gift card or encourage them to click on a link to get 100 followers. Even celebrities have been hit with this scam, including CNN’s Rick Sanchez, Britney Spears and Barack Obama, who unknowingly asked his followers to take a survey in January and possibly win $500 in free gas.

Instead of stealing our financial records, the hackers are stealing our actual identity by pretending to be us on social networks and misusing the trust people have in us. It’s identity theft in the purest sense of the term.

“It’s not the pseudo-identity that is our financial records. It’s actual identity,”  says Mark Federman, a researcher at the University of Toronto.

This is exactly what happened to Bryan Rutberg. He was reading a book in his Seattle home one night when his Facebook status mysteriously changed to “Bryan Rutberg IS IN URGENT NEED OF HELP!!!”. While Bryan was trying to get back into his account, the hacker sent out messages to his friends as they came online, saying that he was robbed at gunpoint in London and was in desperate need of money to get home. Most of Rutberg’s friends were suspicious of this call for help and refused to send money, but one took the bait and wired the impostor $1,200.

“Literally dozens of people I had connected with on Facebook, some of whom I had no way of connecting with other than via Facebook, friends from high school, college, grad school, old jobs, were being solicited by the person who had hacked my page trying to get money from them” said Bryan Rutberg.

Bryan isn’t sure how the hacker got his account information, but he suspects that it was a fake link that he clicked, which is also know as phishing. Due to the rise in these types of scams on social networking sites, Facebook now has a list of frequently asked questions about money scams, phishing, and fake messages to keep users protected, and even offers steps to take if you suspect you’re the target of one of these scams.

(Via TheStar)

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terminatorImagine a world where the technology that you hold so dear has turned on you. Most minds would immediately imagine a Terminator situation with massive casualties and chaos. Although it sounds impossible, researchers say a technology takeover could be possible, on a much smaller scale.

Researchers at the University of Washington believe that it is high time we take a second look at technology security, in particular robot security. Believe it or not robots are beginning to pop up in more and more homes across the country. Mostly in the f0rm of toys but also in house hold cleaning devices such as the iRobot’s Roomba vacuume cleaner. Tadayoshi Kohno, an assistant professor at the University of Washington stated “We were shocked at how easy it was to actually compromise some of these robots.” Some of the modern day robots are said to run on wireless access points and are quite susceptible to hackers. Once hacked into, the robots can be controlled through the Internet and used to spy on people or to vandalize property. “We think that consumers should at least be aware that there is the possibility that someone would listen in on their robot and take over their robot and have mobile eyes and ears in their home,” said Tamara Denning a PhD student who also worked on the paper. Although these bots won’t become self aware and begin to attack your family like the bots in Terminator, studies have shown that security in the current line of robots is little more than an after thought during development.

While none of the people researching this problem believe that it can lead to a Terminator or Matrix like scenario, it is important to realize that there are still risks that your robot could  be hacker. Whether it be for spying purposes or vandalism, one thing is for certain: there should be more of an effort on the manufacturer’s end to ensure that this cannot happen so easily.

(Via PC World)

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