SOURCE: BitDefender

April 23, 2008 10:30 ET

Nigerian Scam 2.0 Targets LinkedIn and Other Social Networking Sites

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA--(Marketwire - April 23, 2008) - Researchers from BitDefender®, an award-winning provider of antivirus software and data security solutions, have detected that social networks are the newest medium for Nigerian "4-1-9" scams. The scam has been put to use on the professional networking website LinkedIn, as well as other social networking websites. LinkedIn Corporation is the world's largest online professional network, with more than 21 million users worldwide.

A social network site uses software to build online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.

In the most recent outbreak of the Nigerian scam -- an advance fee fraud that is estimated to gross hundreds of millions of dollars annually -- the scam letter is sent as a LinkedIn or other social networking sites' invite to join the user's network. A profile page is established with the social networking site, to make the claims in the scam letter appear legitimate. Since the scams are only delivered to the social networking site's user accounts, they completely bypass antispam filters.

Since identification of the scam, BitDefender has been collaborating with LinkedIn to address the issue.

"I think this new twist is more dangerous than the old 4-1-9 scheme because of the increased chance for network users to fall for the scam," said BitDefender CTO, Bogdan Dumitru. "Since LinkedIn and other social networking sites are used to build up businesses or careers, users tend to view the invitations as trustworthy."

Most social networking sites do not verify the identity of those who join, which can lead to abuse.

"On LinkedIn, individuals have full control over their networks," said Kay Luo, LinkedIn's Director of Corporate Communications. "Users decide who to allow into their networks and which introductions to pass along."

LinkedIn has always recommended the following best practices when sending and receiving invitations:

--  Only accept LinkedIn invitations from people you know and trust.
--  Personalize your LinkedIn invitations and messages so that the
    recipient knows who you are. If necessary, remind the person of how you
    know each other
    

For further details on the new celebrity spam botnet, please visit BitDefender's Defense Portal site.

About BitDefender®

BitDefender is the creator of one of the industry's fastest and most effective lines of internationally certified security software. Since our inception in 2001, BitDefender has continued to raise the bar and set new standards in proactive threat prevention. Every day, BitDefender protects tens of millions of home and corporate users across the globe -- giving them the peace of mind of knowing that their digital experiences will be secure. BitDefender solutions are distributed by a global network of value-added distribution and reseller partners in more than 100 countries worldwide. More information is available at www.bitdefender.com.

About LinkedIn

LinkedIn takes your professional network online, giving you access to people, knowledge, jobs and opportunities like never before. Built upon trusted connections and relationships, LinkedIn has established the world's largest and most powerful professional network. Currently, more than 21 million professionals are on LinkedIn, including executives from all five hundred of the Fortune 500 companies, as well as a wide range of household names in technology, financial services, media, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, and numerous other industries. LinkedIn is backed by world-class investors including Sequoia Capital, Greylock, the European Founders Fund, and Bessemer Venture Partners.