Not satisfied with our credit card details and going through our bin bags to use our personal details fraudulently, it seems that cybercriminals are also tapping into the increasing popularity of social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and virtual worlds like Second Life.
?In most cases cybercrime is designed to steal a victim?s personal, bank account or credit card details for use in fraud or to use their computer in an attack on someone else,? says Ros Wright, chairman of the FAP and a former Director of the Serious Fraud Office. ?People using on-line communities should be vigilant and take steps to protect themselves.?
The Fraud Advisory Panel, which was established by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, has identified some of the most common types of fraud:
Virus infection: You share links and files with other users which are exploited by cybercriminals to spread viruses and spyware. Trojan viruses are currently popular with fraudsters in virtual worlds. These capture the login details for your accounts, which are then sold for profit.
Identity fraud: A fraudster collects personal details available online and uses them, often with other information obtained elsewhere, to buy goods and services or to access facilities in your name. People often give away more information than they intend on social networks.
Social engineering: A fraudster uses ?live chat? facilities on social networking sites to try to persuade you to disclose personal information. He or she may use a false identity to make it easier to get to know you.
Impersonation: A fraudster impersonates you online and asks your friends for money to help ?you? out of a difficult situation.
Money laundering: A fraudster converts the proceeds of illegal activities into online currency, which is then used to purchase goods or services from you before being exchanged into real world currency.
Pyramid schemes: For a small fee you are invited to join an online scheme which offers you commission based on the recruitment of new members or gamers.
How to protect yourself from cybercrime
You can protect yourself from cybercrime by following these steps:
- Enable your PC?s firewall and make sure you have adequate virus protection installed on your computer
- Update your virus software regularly (i.e. those irritating updates that your computer always takes ages doing?)
- Browser updates often include security patches which will help keep you safe online so make sure you are using the most recent version of your internet browser.
- Be suspicious of anyone asking you for money online, even if they claim to be your friend!
- When setting up online accounts, make sure you choose strong passwords and change them regularly. A strong password should contain a combination of letters, numbers, and other characters, and be something that is difficult to guess.
- Restrict your profile, so that only people you accept as friends can view your details.
- Consider how much information you post on your profile – there is a balance between giving people enough information to recognise you, and posting details that a fraudster can use.
- If you post status updates or Twitter messages, double-check that the information you share is not inadvertently giving more information than you intend.
What not to do online
- Don?t accept ?friend? requests or reply to messages from people you don?t know.
- Don?t accept large amounts of money or join get-rich-quick schemes in any virtual world; if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
- Never be tempted to share your card details with others ?in world?. Some games require payment; make sure you give credit or debit card details only to the official virtual-world owner.
For more information about fraud and protecting yourself against it, visit the Fraud Advisory Panel website, www.fraudadvisorypanel.org.