Social Web Loaded with Profile Misrepresentation

“Social fakes” are invented profiles on social media (often referred to as profile misrepresentation), which can be used to harass or mock victims anonymously. But the more lucrative fake profile is one that imitates a legitimate business, damaging that business’s online reputation.

The imposters’ ultimate goal? Spam leading to scams.

Social-web security provider Impermium published the results of their recent analysis of the cost of social spam. “Online ID signup fraud” is an emerging trend, with fraudulent accounts ranging from a low of 5% to 40% of users. “Scammers are registering accounts by the millions as they perpetrate fake “friend requests,” deceptive tweets, and the like, while the black market for bulk social networking accounts is growing exponentially.”

They also warned about social web abuse, describing current “sleeper cells” as “a ticking time bomb.” Last month, more than 30,000 fraudulent accounts coordinated an attack, in which attackers submitted more than 475,000 malicious wall posts in one hour. According to Impermium, “Even accounts you’ve had for years could be lying in wait for just the right moment.”

Multiple issues stem from fake accounts, such as brand damage for both the website and its users, scams being perpetrated on existing or potential customers, and for social networking websites, an inflated, incorrect summation of active subscribers-to name a few.

Social media sites can use iovation’s device reputation service to help identify fraudsters at account setup. When a device (or related group of devices) signs up for more than your allotted number of accounts, you can receive alerts on this behavior. When multiple countries are logging into the same accounts within a specified timeframe, you can set alerts on this activity. When users are constantly changing their device attributes between multiple online registrations (to look like new, legitimate consumers), you can know this immediately-and automatically deny the new accounts outright or send them to your fraud review queue. If 1,000 accounts were just set up from the same machine, one after another, wouldn’t you want to know that while it’s happening so you can do something before the scams start?

Rather than relying on information provided by the user, which may not be honest or accurate, device reputation technology goes deeper, identifying the computer being used to register an account. This exposes negative behaviors right away, allowing a website operator to deny access to threatening accounts before your business reputation is damaged and your users are abused.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses hackers hacking social media on Fox Boston. Disclosures

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