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Robert Siciliano

10 Types of Criminal Social Media Impersonators

/ by Robert Siciliano

Social media is the fifth form of mainstream media. At this point, most people know how to use social media, and how to navigate the various websites. But what most users don’t yet realize is how social media can be used against them.

Social media identity theft occurs for a number of reasons.

  1. An online impersonator may attempt to steal your clients or potential clients.
  2. Impersonators may squat on your name or brand, hoping to profit by selling it back to you or preventing you from using it.
  3. Impersonators who pose as legitimate individuals or businesses can post infected links that will infect the victim’s PC or network with a virus that gives hackers backdoor access.
  4. Impersonators sell products or services and offer deals with links to spoofed websites in order to extract credit card numbers.
  5. An impersonator poses as you, and even blogs as you, in order to damage your name or brand. Anything the impersonator writes that is libelous, defamatory, or just plain wrong hurts your reputation and can even make you the target of a lawsuit.
  6. Impersonators harass you or someone you know, perhaps as revenge over a perceived slight.
  7. An impersonator steals a name or brand that has leverage, such as an employee, celebrity, or Fortune 500 company, as a form of social engineering, in order to obtain privileged access.
  8. An impersonator poses as a government entity in order to gain access to sensitive data and commit new account fraud.
  9. An impersonator may be obsessed with you or your brand and simply want to be associated with you.
  10. An impersonator might parody you or your brand by creating a tongue-in-cheek website that might be funny and obviously spoofed, but will most likely not be funny to you.

Social media sites could go a long way in protecting their users by incorporating device reputation management.  Rather than looking at the information provided by the user (which in this case could be an impersonator), go deeper to identify the computer being used so that negative behaviors are exposed early and access to threatening accounts are denied before your business reputation is damaged and your users abused.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses social media Facebook scammers on CNN. Disclosures.