Phisher's Paradise?

From this week’s House Republican Newsletter:

There have been many articles lately in the media about the latest craze on the social networking site Facebook – 25 random things about me, All across the world, people of all ages are posting random facts about their lives for their friends and others to read. This seems very innocent, people telling funny anecdotes about themselves to their friends and family. But what if this phenomenon is not about revealing fun and embarrassing information about yourself. What if 25 random things about me is really a scam to get people to give out the keys to their online accounts?

People are providing all sorts of little known information about themselves. Among the items people post about themselves are:

  • Where they met their spouse.
  • Where they went for their first date.
  • Their wedding anniversary.
  • Where they went to elementary school.
  • Their best friend’s name.
  • Their favorite color.
  • Their parent’s middle names.
  • Their mother’s maiden name.

That seems like harmless stuff. But if you go to your Gmail, AOL, or online banking/credit card website and click the “Forgot My Password” link, you’ll be surprised to see what information they want to verify who you are.

Many sites now utilize a pre-defined security question that you provide the answer to. They include:

  • What was the name of the first school you attended?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What city were you born in?
  • Who was your first employer?
  • What is your first pet’s name?

People are posting the answers to these security questions without even realizing they were doing it. Even worse, is the lack of security that people have placed on this information. Internet security experts are recommending that Facebook users should check the privacy settings on their Facebook account. Have you restricted who can view or search for their information? Did you uncheck the box for “Create a public search listing…?” If you haven’t, its possible that Google already has your information cached out for the world to search for.

This situation shows the perils of internet. What may seem like harmless fun could be providing the key to your identity.


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