Remember the usual warnings we got from experts that deal with spam links over chat windows? We were always told that if someone contacts us and they are not from our contacts list, we should beware the links they send us. For this reason, it was always easy to determine when we should be suspicious of links. If it’s not from a friend, chances are it’s dubious and we should stay away from it. That’s not really the case with social networks as phishing attempts usually come from the accounts of trusted friends.
What is phishing?
If you’ve been around the Internet for a while now, you’ve probably heard of the term “phishing”. It is the process of shady people setting up a web page that resembles that of a popular website such as Facebook. This page tricks users into giving out their login information which is often used to spread the scam further.
How does phishing get spread on Facebook?
With Facebook being the most popular social networking site around, it’s obvious that it’s the biggest target for sinister folks. The site runs on people being social as they post and comment on different links. This is an ideal breeding ground for phishing.
A careless person can click on one of these links that promise a “really hilarious video of a cat fighting a kangaroo” and they will be delivered to a page that asks them to re-enter their login information to view the “totally awesome video”. This page, of course, is no longer part of Facebook even if it looks exactly like a Facebook page. From here, the evil phishing people can acquire login information and use it to spread the questionable link from the careless user’s own account. Some of their equally careless friends will see this link and the cycle continues.
The Usual Tricks
The most common trick of phishing sites is to lure users into re-entering their login information to view content. Phishing can also occur when a web page asks you to download an application to better protect your system or to upgrade software such as Flash. All it takes is one careless click and you can give sinister phishing people full access not just to your social networking account details, but to your computer as well.
How do I fight phishing on Facebook?
The first and most important rule in fighting phishing in your social network is to be cautious of all the links. It’s not enough to trust links just because your friend “posted” them. Hover your mouse pointer over a link to see where it goes. Pay attention to the target URL so you can be sure that you’re going exactly where you want to go. And finally, a little common sense wouldn’t hurt. You should know that Facebook and other social networking sites do not ask you to re-enter your login details to simply view content. Always stay alert when you see the login screen and the URL of the page you are currently on. If you still fall for phishing shenanigans, the best thing you can do is to change your password immediately and promise yourself never to be that careless again.
Gino Carteciano is a blogger and freelance writer who works with people like the fine folks at MSDSonlineEnvironmental, Health & Safety blog. Also, he likes explosions.