Social Media Identity Theft Hits Facebook; Stolen Identities Up For Sale

April 23, 2010 · Filed Under Identity Theft, Social Media · 3 Comments 

Identity Theft isn’t just something that impacts your bank account or credit card.  Your brand or trademark can be hijacked in social media and on the web as well, and we’ve seen it thousands of times here at KnowEm.  Most recently, according to PCWorld, a hacker named Kirllos has offered up for sale 1.5 million Facebook user accounts.  Facebook hasn’t confirmed that this is a verified hack or if Kirllos’ claims are actually legitimate, but the fact that there is a market at all for claimed usernames should give you an idea what their value is worth.

The stolen Facebook identities are offered for sale at between $25 to $45 per 1,000 accounts, making them go for as little as $0.025 per username.  But imagine if one of those stolen names was the name of your brand or trademark term?  How valuable is it for you to control your name on the web? Now think about the intellectual property value being lost, and how much it might cost in legal fees to wrestle it back under your control.

At KnowEm we often see brandjacked names in social media being used to hawk counterfeit products or promote affiliate links to questionable landing pages which are obviously not under the company’s control.   Someone will register a brand name on a popular social media site (and there are hundreds of them) and then use it for their own purposes.  After all, if you were a consumer and saw a brand name you were researching had an account on Twitter, wouldn’t you just assume it was that brand, and trust any links they published?  Thousands of people do every day.

Even if the Facebook hacker’s claims aren’t legitimate, social media identity theft is a real threat and should be a major concern for anyone using a unique name on the web. And after all, isn’t that everyone?