I have mentioned several times just how much personal information we give away on a daily basis. Thanks to social media, we often divulge pieces of information to the world that can possibly be used against us.
Social engineering is a term that describes what happens when a scammer engages in personal 'hacking' to learn about his or her intended target beforehand. This is to give them a good chance of gaining their target's trust.
Scammers used to send emails containing a virus to infect a computer and wait for the user to log into their bank web site. Nowadays a virus checker would probably block that.
Nowadays, thanks to sites like Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn, scammers can target people much more effectively.
They can spot people more likely to have money, such as business owners or corporate executives, and even if the person is more or less likely to fall for their shenanigans.
If hackers know who they are going to go after, they can easily troll the Internet and match phone numbers, names and web sites to email addresses or names.
This information, especially when including innocent social posts about vacations, hobbies, etc., can give scammers a good knowledge of their target beforehand.
Social Engineering information is extremely useful in things like tech support or credit card scam phone calls.
Using more personal information, scammers hope they can convince whoever picks up the phone that there is a serious issue that they have to fix right now.
For example, a scammer could look at the Facebook page of their target, and find that they had recently been on vacation in Mexico.
They could see the dates of the posts, the places that they visited and where they stayed.
Using this information, the scammer can easily set up a scenario that the victim might fall for, such as calling from a bank warning that unauthorized credit card transactions have happened today in that area of Mexico.
Just by using this data, they immediately have a better chance of being believed.
They also have a higher chance that they can succeed in the scam, such as getting the person's credit card information - as part of a "we have to verify that you are the card owner" ploy.
The bottom line on anything like this is that any social posts you make, if they are set as public, can be used against you somehow.
It is best to make any posts only visible to friends, or at most "friends of friends"
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design. Since 1997,
his computer programming and graphic design knowledge have kept his company
at the forefront of the latest technology in web development.
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