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Cybersquatting and Social Media 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-or-a-reasonable-facsimile-thereof dept.
Earthquake Retrofit writes "Brian Krebs has a story about cybersquatting on social networking sites. He cites cases of people being impersonated and reports: 'A site called knowem.com allows you to see whether your name or whatever nickname you favor is already registered at any of some 120 social networking sites on the Web today. For a $64.95 fee, the site will register all available accounts on your behalf, a manual process that it says takes one to five business days. Whether anyone could possibly use and maintain 120 different social networking accounts is beyond my imagination. I would think an automated signup service like knowem.com would be far more useful if there was also a service that people could use to simultaneously update all of these sites with the same or slightly different content.' Is it time to saddle up for a new round of Internet land grabs?" A Schneier blog post earlier this month pointed out a related story about how not establishing yourself on social sites, combined with the frequent lack of validation for friend requests, can provide identity thieves with a tempting target .
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Cybersquatting and Social Media

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  • lol (Score:2, Funny)

    by landaishan (1537821)
    just what ive always wanted, to be on myspace, facebook, twitter, bebo, all at once, 120 times
    • Re:lol (Score:5, Insightful)

      by johny42 (1087173) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:07AM (#27720797)

      The fact that some people need/want to be registered on 120 social networking sites at once means that something's horribly wrong here.

      There should be a single social network that is flexible and open enough so that there's no need for any other one. In fact, there already is such a network. It is called the Internet.

      We just need to utilize it the right way. Distributed social networking is the future, not a service that tries (and very probably fails) to manage your identity on 120 different centralized social networking services.

      • Re:lol (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:23AM (#27720865)

        The fact that some people need/want to be registered on 120 social networking sites at once means that something's horribly wrong here.

        I may only want one, but I might have friends scattered across, say, five of these. And I wouldn't want anyone to impersonate me on the 115 remaining sites.

        There should be a single social network that is flexible and open enough so that there's no need for any other one. In fact, there already is such a network. It is called the Internet.

        You don't want to be identified as yourself across the whole Internet. Trust me.

        • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:14AM (#27721147) Homepage Journal

          ... but I might have friends scattered across, say, five of these.

          This whole social networking thing is stupid. It's got to the point where it's not 'Who you know' but 'who you know depends on what site you use!' Real, proper friends are people you actually meet and talk to, go out with, enjoy life with. Even distant friends can be phoned/skyped/emailed. Social networking is just a pointless way of giving people you don't know too much information about you. If you want a proper cyber-presence get a Homesite...it's cheap and easy enough, and far more secure as you have full control and there are no 'terms and conditions'.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Jurily (900488)

            Social networking is just a pointless way of giving people you don't know too much information about you.

            Exactly. For example, I know for a fact that iwiw.hu (the largest such site in Hungary, with over 2M members in a 10M country) is used extensively by the National Security Office. They actually have a "shadow" version of it, where they connect your relevant contacts to you by hand. Of course, this being "national security", it does not officially exist, and there is absolutely no outside control over it. Pretty fucking scary.

            I wouldn't be surprised for something like this to exist in other countries.

            • by Fred_A (10934)

              Exactly. For example, I know for a fact that iwiw.hu (the largest such site in Hungary, with over 2M members in a 10M country) is used extensively by the National Security Office. They actually have a "shadow" version of it, where they connect your relevant contacts to you by hand. Of course, this being "national security", it does not officially exist, and there is absolutely no outside control over it. Pretty fucking scary.

              I wouldn't be surprised for something like this to exist in other countries.

              Maybe someone should tell them they're no longer part of the Eastern bloc now and there's no need to keep tabs on everybody any more.

              But then every country snoops on its people in its own way (see the NSA fiasco), old habits die hard and it's so difficult to resist the shiny new toys...

              At least the Hungarians found a new way. Does Brazil use a mirror of the Google thing then (can't remember what it's called now, haven't been on it for ages) ?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AmiMoJo (196126)

          The key is to prevent things that could be used to identify you from getting out in the first place.

          Your name is the basic piece of information someone interested in you will have. There are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of people with the same name, so they need more. A photo. Date of birth. Address. Anything that separates you from your namesakes.

          Unfortunately most social networking sites ask for this info, and worse still even if you don't put a photo of yourself up other people can tag you on their

      • The fact that some people need/want to be registered on 120 social networking sites at once means that something's horribly wrong here.

        It's a society of media.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ssintercept (843305)

          The fact that some people need/want to be registered on 120 social networking sites at once means that something's horribly wrong here.

          It's a society of media.

          It's a society of attention whores.

      • I thought Facebook was the Internet...

        There should be a single social network that is flexible and open enough so that there's no need for any other one. In fact, there already is such a network. It is called the Internet.

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        I wish these sites could all merge to form a network and provide an API so that I could host my own profile and pages but still access and share content across from users of facebook, myspace. You could have just one social profile instead of being registered to multiple sites.

        That would be sort of a holy grail solution but I can't see it happening any time soon.

      • This is also a problem with forums. There used to be one forum system, and it wasn't broke. It was called Usenet. Now however, there are zillions of them and many are redundant yet disconnected with each other. You need zillions of logins to work with them all. It's now horribly fragmented.
  • Stake your claim (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:39AM (#27720665)
    Whether you use the sites or not, it requires very little effort to grab your name early, in case you change your mind. Use a service, or something like PasswordGorilla to help manage the accounts. If you run a business with a recognizable brand it's pretty much a requirement to at least register your name.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      You could also ignore all this social nonsense which is really meant for kids and those folks who don't know what right-click means.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dyefade (735994)

        How does that help prevent people impersonating you?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by CheddarHead (811916)

          Most of the scams seem to rely on you having an account on at least one of the social networking sites. They use the info from that site to impersonate you on another site. If you didn't use any of the sites then it would be much harder for them to get the info needed to impersonate you convincingly. They might still be able to convince strangers, but people who really know you, and thus trust you, wouldn't be fooled.

          Also, if you totally ignore these sites (like I do) then it would be doubly hard to conv

        • That's what libel laws are for. I think fear of being impersonated is exaggerated and silly.
      • Re:Stake your claim (Score:5, Informative)

        by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:58AM (#27720757)
        Many businesses currently use FaceBook and Twitter, and I would imagine the numbers will only increase. What it's 'meant' for often has little to do with how it will be used.

        Even if businesses just watch for opinions and complaints, it's probably something worth their time.
        • You are absolutely right, and business will always find a way to use whatever communication channels are available to get their message out. It has become quite a task. I agree with the comment on the service Knowem.com that, in addition to registering your name on 120 accounts, it ought to offer a way to update all of these sites from a single repository of your information. Onward Internet! Onward innovators! What a ride!
        • You're right of course. I was referring to the folks who're frightened of being impersonated, and who must therefore sign up at every social thingy to prevent it.
          • by Dan541 (1032000)

            They could just register firstnamelastname.com and put a page with intro and legit contacts.

  • Scary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mc1138 (718275) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:40AM (#27720671) Homepage
    The mere fact that social networking sites have become so integrated into our society that you can become the target of identity theft terrifies me. There seems just something fundamentally wrong about it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Citation please. How has social networking sites become "so integrated into our society?" Society at large really couldn't give a shit about social networking sites. They're too busy getting on with life (and having one).

      Sites such as facebook are just another in a long line of silly fads. It will pass, just like geocities.
      • It will pass, just like geocities.

        Don't suppose we could get an estimated date on that one?

        • I think there business model is doomed (like youtube, which is losing millions). Like so many dot-coms, they're betting on some vague future mechanism to start generating revenue (sure, they've started ads, but will it be enough to break even and support them - as opposed to being supported by VC who eventually want ROI). Sooner or later, the emperor will notice he's butt-nekkid.
          • The exact tableau of services will morph, to be sure, but the theme of Net Sharing is here to stay. Youtube is not really a revenue generator - it's a pre-emptive purchase "so no one else has it".

            What we are seeing is that an Industry Leader is proving tricky to unseat. There are say five big players per category, and then an ecosphere of niche adjuncts.

            We know of for example:
            "HomeBase Sites" : MySpace, FaceBook, (choice of 2);
            MicroBlogging: Twitter, (your choice of 2)
            Messengers: AIM, Yahoo, MSN,(your choic

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        "Citation please. How has social networking sites become "so integrated into our society?"

        Well, for one, I seem to recall a completely inexperienced and unqualified presidential candidate winning the most powerful job in the universe based partly on the fact that he was *cool* enough to use Twitter. Here's one of 4,790,000 citations on that available via Google: http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/13/barack-obama-overtakes-kevin-rose-on-twitter-mccain-is-nowhere-in-sight/ [techcrunch.com].
        • It wouldn't be *cool* if everyone was doing it. And I doubt that more than a very small fraction of voters was influenced by it.

        • ahh, ok. He won the presidency because he used a blackberry and twitter. Silly me.
        • The mods are on crack today. True, Obama won for many reasons, not the smallest of those was the public disenchantment with the republicans for the tragedy known as the Bush administration.

            But it was his presence in the web had a HUGE boost in his popularity, it made people feel he was modern and smart, it also made him look reachable and down to Earth.

      • People under 50, making more than $20,000 a year, with low-moderate minimum computer experience, *are* "society at large".

        They're getting into social media. Haltingly, tentatively, but surely.

        This is not "Revenge of the Nerds" between the Nerds & Betas anymore.

        No citation today, because I agree it's a non-random usergroup, but the outliers are now under 50%, I am confident. It will be even more pronounced in the next five years.

    • by maxume (22995)

      It scares you because you think of it as identity theft. If you think of it as banks and other institutions falsely issuing credit in your name (based on fraudulent information that they failed to sufficiently verify), it will just piss you off.

      As far as using the social networking sights to get friends and relatives to send money, what fraction of people are actually that credulous? My immediate family wouldn't send me money based only on a Facebook message, let alone friends and acquaintances.

    • Not theft. Infringement.

    • It's not identity theft as you usually think of it. That's when somebody gathers enough data to fraudulently impersonate you to government and financial institutions that screw up on authentication (which, unfortunately, is a lot of them). That has serious consequences, that usually don't fall on the idiots who make it possible.

      This is a case of somebody gathering enough details to put up a Facebook account (say) in the name of one of your friends, and providing enough details to convince you it's the

  • multi-update (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aerynvala (1109505) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:50AM (#27720721) Homepage
    I would think an automated signup service like knowem.com would be far more useful if there was also a service that people could use to simultaneously update all of these sites with the same or slightly different content.

    Um...Ping.fm [www.ping.fm]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    completely avoid social networking sites, rather than playing "whack a mole" by trying to sign up to them all?

    I've got a single home page on my own server, which contains minimal personal information. All of my other "home" pages are simply a link back to this page. I don't use social networking sites, as the social network itself is personal information.

  • checked out some names:

    spiff 74 times

    snake 75 times

    My /. name 24 times

    4nic8 a mesially 13 times.
  • In the list of sites on knowem, there is indeed a site that allows users to simultaneously update their status across social networking sites... http://hellotxt.com/ [hellotxt.com]
  • Let's you update multiple social networking and bookmarking sites all at once or based on groupings (i.e. business / social ). Of course it doesn't support 120 sites, but I think the count is up to around 40 now...
  • Hey! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bensafrickingenius (828123) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:33AM (#27720905)
    Someone is impresonating me on Facebook! I demand action!
    Sincerely,
    John Smith
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:47AM (#27720977)

    A word of caution: I used this service and Digg banned my account for "multiple accounts" since my account was created at the Knowem place along with other Knowem users' accounts.

    All I wanted was one Digg account under my brand's trademark name and now that name is stuck with a disabled account.

    • What, you wanted a Digg account named "Anonymous Coward"?

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Update: I contacted Knowem by email and ended up speaking with Knowem's co-founder on the phone. He is currently working on working something out with Digg and is trying to get my account restored. He also said that he'd also give me one free month of the subscription service for my inconvenience.

      I have never received such a personal response from a website before - it was very pleasant.

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:26PM (#27721617) Homepage

    Yay! Now in order to impersonate someone, you only need to break into one single account and immediately have access to his 120 social networking services. The wonders of progress!

  • http://www.usernamecheck.com/ [usernamecheck.com] will check whether a username is taken at dozens of sites for you, for free. signing up for the few relevant ones really isn't that difficult, certainly not worth $65.
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      My ex uses a rather unique username, I just found her profile on sites I didn't know existed. Thanks.

  • Link to your legitimate profiles from your single personal home page/site and put a fat disclaimer there stating that any other profile with your name and/or information not explicitly mentioned is not yours. Assuming search engines do their job right and rank your home page before any skanky impersonator, problem is pretty much solved.
    • Great post sir.

      I have chosen the "avoid them all" method as well, but I like your theme. Not counting stray hacks, the control provided by your own webpage feels like a tie-breaker vs. trolls.

  • ... to base identification on resources that are so easily manipulated?

    I mean, it would be as moronic as my bank issuing a line of credit in my name to anyone who walked in off the street knowing my SSN and birthdate. Even the abuse of social networks to discredit or defame an individual tells more about the shortcomings of the suckers that fall for it. Using the old-fashioned 'networks' like gossip around the water cooler predates Al Gore inventing the Internet. And people that are so socially inept to r

  • So what if there are N social networking sites ? N-5 will fail within a year or two. If you must buy into the social-media hype, pick one or two big ones and stick with them. There's little point in having profiles on obscure sites if you're not going to be an active member, right ?

  • Is it time to saddle up for a new round of Internet land grabs?

    Here we go again! Where it stops nobody knows... and few people seem to care.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@justconnected . n et> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @02:27PM (#27722491)

    Well "I don't use any of these sites!" you said.

    For those of you who didn't go to the website, one of them is Slashdot.

  • It's one of the most disappointing phenomena of the Internet. With all the Internet's potential, all people care about it turns out is looking at pictures of themselves and sending OMG messages.
  • This is my PGP key.
    There are many like it, but this one is mine.
    My key is my best friend.
    It is my who I am.
    I must remember it as I remember my life.
    My key, without me, is useless.
    Without my key, I am anonymous.
    I must post my message signed.
    I must post better than any enemy who is trying to impersonate me.
    I must reg him before he regs me. I will....

    Before CmdrTaco I swear this creed.
    My key and myself are the defenders of my IP.
    We are the masters of our enemy.
    We are the saviors of my Second Life.
    So be it, unt

  • I got a direct message on twitter from a flesh-and-blood friend of mine who's trying to build his own professional coaching business asking about my audience when I twitter.

    I resisted the temptation to lambaste him for suggesting that I would consider my twitter friends an audience and rambled off something about 'friends and family, real and internet.'

    He was disappointed to learn that none of my friends were interested in his spamesque, coaching, pointy-hairisms.

    I didn't tell him it was b/c we tend t

  • I think it is kind of bad that someone would be so paranoid of their names and aliases being used by others (some just by coincidence, others by intent) that they would give a site the power to register them on a whole bunch of sites, many of which you may not want anything to do with. Many of them are useless. That is why MySpace and Facebook are dominant, because they stamped out or are in the process of stamping out other sites. Social networking is a difficult area to maintain a high stature in. An
  • Even ESPN is putting up stories about someone Twittering this or that. SI has a facebook page they tout every day. Now we are worried someone might want to 'impersonate' you on MySuperNetworkSite.com? Unless you are famous or have a stalker (not mutually exclusive), who the heck is going to try and impersonate you?

    I got a private facebook account only because a bunch or former high school and college friends emailed me about it. It's useful since they change jobs and phone numbers occasionally.

    I've seen

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