Phishing is a very real, detrimental Internet phenomenon and people fall victim to it every day. Statistics show that in the UK alone someone is affected by a scam circulating the web once every 20 minutes. I too recently became just another statistic and had my facebook account hacked. I am going to share my experience with you now, so that you can avoid making the same mistakes as I did.
I am a user of facebook, most people are. It allows me to easily keep in touch with my friends and family. I can find out whats going on in the lives of the people I care about, I can find out what they are doing and were they are. And I can share my own thoughts, work and experiences with them if I so chose to. I can share my appreciation of products and services by liking them, and follow bands or authors that are of interest to me. I like reading quotes and seeing funny images and for the most part social networking is a beneficial addition to my life.
However not too long ago I found myself in a bit of bother, regarding my facebook account and it appears I was not the only one.
This one particular day as I was doing my usual troweling through peoples status updates, a message came up informing me that one of my friends had tagged me in a picture. This in itself is not unusual, I often get informed that someone has caught me on film and has decided to share it with the world and their wives. This no longer phases me and all I can do is prey that they have at least caught me in a good light.
Sparked by my inquisitive nature I clicked on to the link that was offering to show me this mysterious image. Usually when I want to see a picture it is instantly there before my vary eyes, staring back at me from the screen and I am either pleased because I look alright, or a bit embarrassed because I look a bit stupid, or disappointed because I don't look very attractive. I know, I know it's all terribly superficial and a rather vain attitude to take but, hey I'm only human.
Anyway I digress, the upshot was that instead of getting a picture come up like I was expecting, I instead had a page come up saying that I needed to input my user name and password to view it. Now straight away this was a bit odd, as I had never had to do that to access a picture before, especially as it was probably a photograph with me in it.
Secondly, although they had obviously done their research and it was almost identical to the real facebook log in point, it still didn't look exactly like it should. I couldn't put my finger on just what it was that made it not quite look like the genuine article, it just didn't quite seem like it was.
Thirdly there was something in the depths of my gut that made me feel a bit uneasy about the whole thing, but I wasn't sure why? And yet, in spite all my reservations and the niggling doubt that had set in, you know what I did? I entered my details anyway! I'm not kidding, even after everything I have ever heard or read about phishing on the Internet, this is exactly what I still did. Cue the Homer Simpson moment 'Doh!'.
Well suffice to say the image that did appear was not one of me at all, but a group of a couple of hundred people, at some kind of religious event or celebration. They were all wearing pretty much identical clothes and the picture was taken at such a distance that trying to make out facial features was near on impossible. I know that this was not an occasion I was at, even as a child, but if you were not sure and you had a good look for yourself, just in case, you would not be able to identify yourself anyhow.
So I had clearly been well and truly had by the cybercriminals and one of their sophisticated hacking techniques that I had read so much about before. I felt like a complete idiot and was now worried about what they were going to do with my information now that they had it. It didn't take long to discover what they wanted control of my account for, as later that evening links and promotions to a site that sold diet pills began cropping up on my wall and status updates. As they appeared, I did deleted them but as fast as I was wiping them off, they were popping up again, I was fighting a losing battle.
This wasn't even the worst of it, the next day I couldn't even get into my account! I was angry and upset but I could only blame myself. I tried and tried, but every time it just kept telling me that access was denied. I was denied access to my own facebook account and boy did I feel even more foolish now. Luckily the good people at the social networking site were right on to their devious plan and sorted my account out for me, and everything went back to normal.
That is a lesson I won't be forgetting in a hurry, and if anyone asks for your password and user name to view a picture on facebook, take my advice and avoid it like the plague.
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