Tuesday, 16 Dec, 2008 Technology

Facebook Log-ins Sold to Criminals for 89p Each


According to a report, hackers are stealing Facebook accounts, selling them to different criminal groups at 85p (~$1.3) for each log-in. Stolen accounts are then used for such illegal purposes as sending spam messages, which are most often disguised as links to videos or images from family and friends.

Security specialists at Trend Micro carried out a research to discover that hackers are also selling accounts for MySpace, Skype and a number of online games. These log-ins are sold for a pound each. Experts say that information about credit cards can be sold for 25 pounds (~$38) and for 35 (~$53) pound criminal gangs can buy internet banking accounts.

The account can be stolen if a user clicks on a spam link that appears to come from one of the friends on Facebook or a user registered in the address book. After clicking the link a spyware is installed on a user's computer. The program registers all the information from the computer each time users log-in to different websites. After an account is stolen, a hacker sends it on to money-laundering gangs, who in their turn use the information to penetrate users' bank accounts.

Experts say that internet scams increased 5 times since September 2008, as more people are involved in online shopping, especially in the run-up to Christmas. Experts from the computer security firm McAfee said that Facebook users had been affected by a virus called "Koobface." The virus searches for valuable information such as credit cards numbers. It spreads through notes that are sent to friends of a person whose computer was infected, informs Daily Mail.

Users receive messages that say "You look just awesome in this new movie." These messages sent recipients to a site where they are asked to download software, which claims to be an update of the Flash Player. In case the program is downloaded, a virus is installed on a computer.

"Whether you're going online to use Facebook, or for banking or Christmas shopping, you should be aware that hacking and identity theft tends to increase at certain times of the year," warns Trend Micro's Rik Ferguson. Facebook had already informed about the scam and asked its users to delete infected e-mails. The social network posted directions on how to clean contaminated computers on http://www.facebook.com/security .

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