While social networking sites may have started out as ways for internet users to communicate, network, post photos and enjoy entertainment, they have now become a vital part of marketing and business in a number of ways. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become an important part of business promotion and marketing, used by businesses and individuals all around the world in order to promote their products.
However, social networking sites have also become a breeding ground for cybercriminals such as hackers, with many using these sites in order to obtain information that they then use for their own suspect purposes. It is not just extraction of information that hackers are using these sites for – according to a recent report, some are now using a virus that is normally used to steal credit card information to create an online buzz about products by posting fake likes or creating fake followers on social networking sites.
Hackers are now making money by charging companies and individuals for a service that is administered through the use of a modified Zeus virus – a virus that is usually used to steal credit card information by cybercriminals. They are using the virus to create fake likes on Facebook, more followers on Twitter using fake accounts, and to increase fans on Instagram.
By doing this, the hackers are helping to create on online buzz about products – and helping themselves to fatter wallets by charging for packages of fake likes, fans and followers. In fact, some hackers are charging more for packages of fake ‘likes’ than for the same number of stolen credit card numbers, which illustrates the strength and popularity of social networking as a promotional tool.
Those involved in this process are using hacker forums to sell packages of Instagram followers, Facebook likes and Twitter followers in batches of 1000 for between $15 and $30 on average. For the same number of stolen credit card numbers, the cost can be as low as $6. However, hackers are well aware that individuals and businesses are willing to spend good money on creating a buzz about their product or service.
Officials from Facebook have been trying to stamp out the creation of false accounts and likes, and said that it will also be increasing security for Instagram, which it purchased last year. One spokesperson for the social networking giant said that the company was urging users to look out for suspicious activity that might indicate the use of false accounts and automated processes, and if necessary report the activity so that it could be looked into. However, the virus seems to be continuing it’s rampage throughout the net.
Top security firms are urging computer users to use extreme caution when logging into personal websites, such as banking and social networking websites that are commonly exploited. Ensuring the URL in the address bar matches the identity of the website will help prevent identity theft and other disasters from occurring.