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Robert Siciliano

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High-Tech Harassment in Social Media

Posted: 10/10/09 11:33 AM ET

Technology keeps providing new opportunities for harassment: social media identity theft, cell phone abuse, online bullying, the list goes on.

Over a year ago, I appeared on The Tyra Show to discuss high tech harassment. I met a family from Washington, who found that several of their phones had been hacked and were being used to spy on and harass them. The hacker was able to turn a compromised phone on and off, use the phone's camera to take pictures, and use the speakerphone to record their private conversations. Every time they rerun the episode, I get emails from more victims.

In an even more shocking instance of high tech harassment, a hacker took over a woman's Facebook account while she was on a camping trip, with no Internet and no cell phone service. The hacker impersonated this woman, but instead of attempting to scam her family and friends out of cash, he used her Facebook profile to post suicidal messages, including, "My only friend is the handgun in the back of my closet," and, "I don't want a funeral or memorial, I want it to be like I never existed." After two and a half hours of Facebook drama, the victim happened to regain cell phone reception and discovered twenty voicemail messages begging her not to do "anything drastic." By the time her son was able to get in touch with her, there were police gathered outside her home, preparing to break down the door.

In this incident, the victim was the mother of a Navy Seal who died in Iraq. It's believed that she was targeted because of her charity work celebrating the lives of deceased military personnel.
But this can happen to anybody.


  1. Strengthen your passwords; use upper/lower case, numbers and characters. Don't use easily guessed words from the dictionary or pets, kids, birthdates etc.

  2. Don't access social media from libraries, internet cafes or any public computers that could have spyware.

  3. Make sure your own PC has updated virus definitions and security patches. Don't bother with all the 3rd party apps in social media. Many are risky.

  4. Don't click on links in emails from "friends" asking you to download a video or see pictures. This is becoming a common ruse in social media.


Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.
Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses high tech harassment on the Mike and Juliet Show on FOX:

 

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