Army stresses caution, education to combat social media scams

| July 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Public Affairs
News Release

WASHINGTON — You just signed up for a Facebook profile and a four-star general already wants to be your friend.

Good thing, right? Not likely.

Fake profiles, impostors and online scams litter the social media landscape, and as social media evolves, so do the tactics of online crooks.

“It’s still the wild west out there,” said Staff Sgt. Dale Sweetnam, noncommissioned officer in charge, Online and Social Media Division, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs. “You have to stay vigilant, protect your information and always be on the lookout for social media scams.”

The Army authorizes the use of social media in both official and personal capacities, but Sweetnam said the threats are always present, so education is key. Social media scam artists work tirelessly to steal personal information, to impersonate Soldiers and to try to acquire sensitive information.

“If you are a scammer who wants to build someone’s trust and then con them into sending you money, doesn’t it make sense to steal the identity of someone America trusts? Nobody is held in higher esteem than our military members, so they make a lucrative case to impersonate,” said Maj. Juanita Chang, director, OSMD. “People inherently trust the military and wouldn’t imagine being conned by a Soldier or a general with a chest full of medals.”

It is easy for someone to penetrate social media circles, and security-minded individuals are still susceptible to attacks. In many cases, people will simply go online, become “friends” with a Soldier in uniform, steal the photo and use it as their own profile photo. Some individuals have actually taken the identity of a deceased Soldier and used it to solicit money from unsuspecting victims.

Sweetnam said that fake pages also exist for Army organizations. He suggests confirming official Army social media presences with the Army’s Social Media Directory.

“There is a lot the Army can achieve using social media, and there are endless benefits for Soldiers and their families,” Sweetnam said. “But we have to be safe, and we have to be on the lookout for those who wish to ruin a good thing.”

Regardless of how involved you are with social media, it’s important to always be on the lookout for scams. Sweetnam said that you should never “friend” someone you don’t actually know in person. You should also do periodic searches for your name, to make sure nobody is using your name and likeness for personal gain.

And, of course, always keep operational security in mind.

Social media precautions

•Don’t share information you don’t want to be public. Once something is out, users can’t control where it goes.

•Verify a “friend” request by phone or other means before allowing access. Group friends and control access

permissions based on the groups.

•Take a close look at all privacy settings. Set security options to allow visibility to “friends only.”

•Be cautious when listing job, military organization, education and contact information.

•Ensure that information posted online has no significant value to the enemy. Always assume that the enemy is reading every post.

•Closely review photos before they go online. Make sure they do not give away sensitive information, which could be dangerous if released.

•Make sure to talk to family about operations security and what can and cannot be posted.

•Create different, strong passwords for each online account. Never give password information away.



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Category: Army News Service, News

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