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High-Tech Harassment in Social Media

Social media identity theft, Facebook jacking, mCrime with mobile phone hacking and harassing, cyber bullying, and the list goes on. I did a spot on the Tyra Banks Show over a year ago and they keep re-running the episode. Every time the show airs I get emails from victims of high tech harassment. In the show a family from Washington, found that several of their phones had been hijacked in order to spy on them. They say the hacker was able to turn a compromised phone on and off, use the phone’s camera to take pictures, and use the speakerphone as a bug.

They got off easy.

This is amazing. Imagine you are away on vacation disconnected from the internet and mobile phones (which is what “vacation” is today) and your Facebook account is jacked. The criminal hacker is now posing as you. But not to scam your friends and family to send the criminal money.  So what’s he up to?  How about publicly announcing to all your friends and family that you are in the process of committing suicide.

For 2.5 hours a life and death drama unfolded in social media. Imagine a Facebook status like this  “I don’t want a funeral or memorial, I want it to be like I never existed. The way I wish it was.” And “My only friend is the handgun in the back of my closet.”

Facebook friends and family freaked out and began responding to “her” posts with words of encouragement, trying to “talk her down” while her mobile phone was ringing with 20 messages to voicemail.

On the way back from her trip her son finally got in touch with her as she got a signal. In the process the police were called and at her house ready to smash in the front door.

The victim in this case is a mother of a deceased Navy Seal from Iraq. It is believed she was targeted because of her charity work with celebrating the lives of deceased military personnel.

But this can happen to anybody.

  1. Strengthen your passwords; use upper/lower case, numbers and characters. Don’t use easily guessed words from the dictionary or pets, kids, birthdates etc.
  2. Don’t access social media from libraries, internet cafes or any public computers that could have spyware.
  3. Make sure your own PC has updated virus definitions and security patches. Don’t bother with all the 3rd party apps in social media. Many are risky.
  4. Don’t click on links in emails from “friends” asking you to download a video or see pictures. This is becoming a common ruse in social media.

Invest in identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.


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