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Social media games can open the door to cyber crime

Social Media Mix 3D Icons (Blogtrepreneur/Flickr)

A lot of people are relying on social media to stay connected while ordered to stay at home, but the FBI warns that those games you’re playing online could benefit identity thieves.

“This is a hard time for everyone and we know social media has been a boon to help people stay connected, but it also can create new vulnerabilities,” said Eugene Kowel, acting special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh office of the FBI.

Case in point: the popular movement on Facebook to post your high school graduation pictures as a gesture of support for the Class of 2020. It becomes a rich a target for hackers looking to scrape personal identity information from the web.

Kowel said friends sharing high school graduation pictures might also unwittingly be sharing the name of their school, the year they graduated and their high school mascot.

Those are all common security retrieval questions for password-protected online accounts, Kowel said. Hackers can use that information to reset security questions and gain access to those accounts, he said.

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Kowel declined to discuss any pending cases, but said an influx of new reports of cyber crime to FBI offices across the country over the past two months — many of them involving online trends and games related to covid-19 — suggests hackers have been busy.

“A lot of these trends are fun and a good way to connect with friends. But anything that involves posting your first car, the name of your first pet, the street you grew up on or tagging your mother that could reveal her maiden name, all of these trends align with questions of your identity that could align with your accounts.

”People need to be very vigilant about sharing their personal information. They need to check their security settings and be sure who’s viewing your information,” he said.

“Often you don’t see evidence of the crime right away. But they take that information and it’s traded and sold online on the dark web.”

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© 2020 Tribune-Review