Be Careful of Facebookers Bearing Gifts

On Thursday, the social networking giant launched Facebook Gifts – a new social gifting service that allows users to purchase real gifts for their friends, have them shipped and have a preview of the gift pop up on their Timeline. Facebook will even give users the choice to send a gift in the “birthday reminders” section on the right hand side of the page.

Investors are salivating over the monetization possibilities, as just a minute amount of adaptation could result in a windfall of cash for Facebook. However, this feature has already raised some serious privacy concerns.

“The amount of private data users are sharing on social networking sites already exceeds all security precautions,” said Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at antivirus vendor Bitdefender, to  PC World Australia. “Making it so much easier for the user to add a number of addresses they can receive parcels at (including probably work or school addresses) would make it even easier for real-life criminals to gather information about a potential victimthe new information that might be shared by users is particularly dangerous in the case of account compromise.”

Experts also caution that hackers and spyware creators could take advantage of people’s natural curiosity about gifts to exploit them.

“There is strong potential for this [feature] to spark malicious, spam e-mails, like ‘You have just received a Facebook Gift, please click here to redeem’,” said Adam Levin, chairman and founder of Identity Theft 911, when speaking to PC World Australia. “We see instances like this all the time and the link included usually opens up to a website exposing the user to malware and spearphishing… Because of this feature, more users may be apt to reveal their birthdays on their profile. Birthdays are often used to verify a customer’s identity, so it’s very valuable information for identity thieves. Anytime you provide information to complete the mosaic of your life, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way.”

Click here to see Facebook’s complete overview of the feature.

What do you think of ordering and sending gifts over Facebook? How is it different than other forms of e-commerce? Would you trust it more or less?

Recommended Resources

BitDefender Safego is a Facebook application you can install that will scan your News Feed and help keep you safe from scams on Facebook.

PRIVATE WiFi® is a Personal VPN that encrypts everything you send and receive. Don’t access Facebook from a public WiFi hotspot without it.

Action Alert | Free Parental Control offers a 100% free Internet safety solution designed for parents. There is also a Maximum Protection option for parents that need a more advanced set of tools.

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