Hackers target social networking, like facebook

By Aaron Gilchrist - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Facebook users beware.  You've heard the warnings about protecting your password, but it seems hackers can cause more trouble than you might think.

Not only does a successful hacker get access to your social networking account... He gets access to your friends too.

For one woman that meant a loss of security.   For her friend, a loss of money.

For Deanne Gammon, facebook was a bridge to great memories.

"I had made connections with people I had gone to high school and college with, people I hadn't seen in years," Gammon said.

And she's not alone. The 5-year-old social networking website has more than 200 million active users.

And like Deanne, every one of them is at risk of having their identity stolen.
"I feel invaded."

One of Deanne's friends logged into his facebook account this week... And was greeted by an instant message with Gammon's familiar face... And a friendly, "how are you?"

The friend asked about this phony Deanne's daughter and her surgery.

Phony Deanne played along writing, "I decided to take her on a trip to London so she could recover all she's been through."

The hacker went on to say "we were mugged at gun point... It was a brutal experience.   Cash and cell phone was taken."

The real Deanne's friend asked, "is there anything i can do?"

The hacker went in for the kill... Asking the friend to wire money.

That friend became skeptical and asked more questions.

Unfortunately, another one of Deanne's friends didn't... Went to the bank and wired the money.

"I feel horrible about it. All she was doing was trying to be a good friend to me."

When Deanne tried to go to her facebook page, the hacker had changed her password.

"All of a sudden I came to the realization... 'Oh my goodness, if this person has my Facebook password, he also has the password to a lot of my other accounts."

Jason Chandler is the IT chief here at NBC12.  He says far too often we make it easy for hackers. Using names of pets or children as our passwords.

"If you're not using a strong password, then it will be really easy for them to figure it out," Chandler said.

Passwords should be easy for you to remember, but hard others to figure out... Using upper and lower case letter, numbers and even symbols.

Chandler suggests thinking up a pass phrase.

"If you have a favorite quote in a movie or a there's something you like to say often, each letter of the first word will be a letter in that password," Chandler said.

Whether it's facebook or your bank account, Chandler says don't use any one password very long.

"Three months is probably the shortest amount of time you want to go.  You don't want to have the same password for a year," Chandler said.

Experts say you should also avoid using one password for all of your password-protected items.   You should have at least have three or four.

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