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November 26, 2007

Facebook users warned of security risk

Moneybookers, a provider of secure online payment solutions, has said that internet users are at an increased risk of identity fraud, owing to the growth in the number of online social communities.

By CBR Staff Writer

The company’s security department monitors and analyses internet user behaviour as part of its risk analysis. It says the popularity of Facebook in particular, combined with the privacy settings offered by the community, could be more dangerous to personal identity security than tricksters who resort to phishing.

Facebook uses privacy filters which allow users to choose their privacy levels and the kind of information they would want to reveal. However, Moneybookers security experts have expressed concerns regarding the fact that most users aren?t aware of the risk they expose themselves to by posting personal details on the web. Moreover, they consider Facebooks’ current default privacy settings to be risky, considering the size of the community.

Amongst the many reasons listed is the fact that the user is asked to provide his/her real name, location, company and date of birth at the time of registration. This information is by default available for all the networks and friends to see. In addition, the community is no longer restricted to students.

It now includes a growing number of professionals, a hard-to-resist temptation for fraudsters. Popular networks are pre-selected by Facebook, such as the London network for Londoners, while registering. This makes the profile available to all members of the network by default, unless the settings are changed.

Vigilance and caution is what the security experts recommend. They suggest changing of privacy settings if the user joins a popular network. This way, members will not have direct access to sensitive information. They also recommend that users don’t display their date of birth and do not allow external search engines to index their profile. Finally, Moneybookers advises users to ensure that hints to their passwords are not available on their Facebook profile.

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