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While phishing scams are nothing new to us who have been working online from home, the latest phishing scam doesn’t seem to be about stealing your identity or information.
The latest phishing scam is on stealing your personal photos. The photos that you post of your children or family on Facebook and other social media sites. This includes those adorable photos you took of your children opening Christmas presents or romping outside in piles of Fall leaves.
While identity thieves have long been looking online for our personal identification such as the PDF of our passport or social security card, now they have targeted our personal photos for their own vindication or “sick pleasure”.
According to Stephen Cobb, an online security expert, it isn’t completely clear what the identity thieves want to do with these photos, but it appears that they want to use them on pornography sites.
Many times pictures of children end up on pornography sites using the child’s face matched with an adult body. Photo phishers have become very educated about what is salable and what is not.
While it appears that Facebook has become a major target for photo phishing, it doesn’t stop there. Personal blogs and web sites with photos are also a target.
What is a major tactic used by photo phishers?
One of the main tactics used by photo phishers is to send you an email from one of your Facebook friends using the email account tied to your Facebook account. The email will ask you to look at your friend’s photo and see if he/she looks awkward, fat or old. When you click on the link, photo phishing software is added to your computer.
If you should receive one of these emails, do not click on the link. If you feel the click could be legitimate, still do not click on the link. Log into your Facebook account and send a private message to the friend, who requested you look at the photo.
What can you do to protect your personal photos online?
As always, have reliable anti-virus protection software running on your computer. It is also a good idea to have anti-malware software such as Malwarebytes running along with your anti-virus protection.
Never click on a link, that sounds suspicious.
“Think before you shoot” is the advice given by Stephen Cobb. While you do have the right to put your photos out there for the world to see, ask yourself how you would feel if this photo did get into the hands of a photo phisher. This is especially true when it comes to photos of children.
What can you do if your photos are compromised and end up on a questionable web site?
- Contact Facebook or your web or blog hosting company. This will depend where the photo was posted.
- Report it to your local police. (It may fit a pattern that they are currently seeing in your area.)
- Report it to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
- Report it to the FBI.
- Report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC) who works in concert with the FBI.
While no online photo is ever guaranteed that it will never be compromised, these are all things that you can do to make sure your online photos are safe. With the holidays here, make an extra effort to insure the safety and sharing of your online photos.
You’ll be glad that you did.
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