A Glorious Week of Identity Theft
Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
If there was ever a week to get high, totally drunk, on information security and identity theft scammers and hackers, then this is it! Media outlets everywhere have been pumping out story after story of data breaches, identity theft, criminal hackers and indictments! Yeah team! For a criminal hacker groupie, this is Woodstock!
Dark reading reports Eight defendants were arraigned in a Brooklyn court for allegedly using the stolen identities of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Asurion customers to steal some $22 million worth of wireless equipment and services. An indictment was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court yesterday morning charging Courtney Beckford and seven other defendants. When identity theft defendants named Courtney, Gabe, Marsha, Saul and Ron are involved in a $22 million identity theft scheme, then you know it’s just a matter of time until someone named Britney or Brad will get busted too! It’s the identity theft apocalypse!
ABC News reports that a former informant for the Secret Service was one of three men charged with stealing credit and debit card information from 170 million accounts in the largest data breach in history. The former informant, Albert Gonzalez of Florida, A.K.A “Segvec”, “SoupNazi,” and “j4guar17,” whose motto was ”Get Rich or Die Tryin’” was alleged to have been the ringleader of the criminal hacking operation of a prolific network that spans over five years of serious criminal activity.
Information week reports in the first half of 2009, the number of computer users affected by malware engineered to steal personal information has risen by 600% compared to the January through June period in 2008, according to PandaLabs. In quantitative terms, Panda reports identifying 391,406 computers infected with identity-theft malware in the first six months of the year. Identity thieves are also seeking sensitive information through a more diverse set of targets. Where previously financial data thieves focused on spoofing online bank sites to dupe users into entering login information, they have recently been targeting a variety of services where payment account information may be stored or entered, like PayPal, Amazon, eBay, or charity sites.
Cnet reports Rogue Facebook apps steal log-in data, send spam. Security firm Trend Micro warned on Wednesday that a handful of rogue Facebook apps are stealing log-in credentials and spamming victims’ friends. So far, six malicious applications have been identified: “Stream,” “Posts,” “Your Photos,” “Birthday Invitations,” “Inbox (1),” “Inbox (2)” according to a blog post by Trend Micro researcher Rik Ferguson. The activity started earlier in the week with a Facebook notification Ferguson says he got from an app called “sex sex sex and more sex!!!,” which has more than 287,000 fans. The notification said that someone had commented on one of his posts. That app doesn’t appear to be malicious and may have been compromised somehow to begin the distribution of the spam, he said.
USA Today reports Hackers harness Twitter to do their dirty work. A cyber gang has begun experimenting with setting up free Twitter accounts, then sending out Tweets from the popular micro-blogging service that are really coded instructions to botted PCs to carry out criminal activities. Anti-virus maker Symantec has isolated several samples of infected PCs carrying a unique new infection, dubbed “Sninfs.”
The PCs most likely got infected when their users unwittingly clicked to a tainted web page or on a corrupted link carried in an email or social network message, says Marc Fossi research and development manager at Symantec Security Response.
Don’t just sit back and get hacked. Arm yourself with anti-virus that runs automatically in the background and prevents “Courtney, Marsha and SoupNazi” from stealing your identity. Pick up McAfee’s Total Protection software and take control of your PC security.
Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
Invest in Intelius 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.