Be honest, do you 100% know each and every one of your Facebook friends? Could any of them be online friends? Friends you haven’t met in the physical world? If that’s the case, they could well be social bots! Social bots (short for robots) not only masquerade as real people online, but they post like real people do, secretly promoting products or viewpoints, all while slowly stealing your private information. Botnets are the latest in social media dangers.
What are botnets? Botnets themselves are not new; what makes these social botnets such a threat is their ability to fly under the radar and pass for genuine online users. The new social botnets can also be created surprisingly quickly – we’re talking 250 a day! When controlled by a botmaster, aka cybercriminal, these social bots can really cause chaos and steal information on a huge scale. Consider what thousands could do when working in coordination!
Cybercriminals are catching on to the fact that blogs like the BullGuard blog are doing a great job of educating the public to be wary of email scams; social networks, however, are a fairly unchartered territory when it comes to premium scams. People just aren’t as experienced with spotting scams in social media environments. And the bots don’t make it easy on us. Following a sophisticated set of behavioural guidelines, it’s extremely difficult to identify them and prevent them from accessing and disseminating your personal and private information.
Facebook has acknowledged that they have tens of millions of fake accounts. So watch out! Do you really know all of your friends? And lastly, here’s a funny statistic for you: female social bots get 20 to 30 times the number of friend requests versus their male social bot counterparts.
Be sure to friend people you know and trust, and get the protection you need when surfing the web, socializing, shopping and banking online.
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