In the age of all-pervasive social networks, hacking and 24-hour connectivity, cyber-stalkers may seem to be scary predators indeed. But a growing class of cyber-crook has now started to prey on the predators, according to Bitdefender research. The antivirus software provider has discovered that cyber-stalkers are targeted by cyber-criminals who place malvertising on people search engines, where anyone can seek information about others.
Unwanted snoops who search out information about exes, colleagues and others may end up themselves in cyber-criminals’ data bases. In a recent campaign, scammers placed malvertising for a fake contest promising Apple gadgets for “stalkers” who complete a short survey.
“Stalkers may be the next big target for cyber-criminals because they have the characteristics of an easy-to-trick victim: incontrollable curiosity and uncalculated online reactions,” Bitdefender Chief Security Strategist Catalin Cosoi said. “Besides being a harmful habit, stalking also poses security risks if, in the frenzy of digging for pictures and information, people click on bogus contests and surveys.”
More aggressive stalkers may try to gain access to victims’ computer by installing spyware on their machines. Besides legal repercussions, they also risk ending up using rogue software that places malware on their own machines. Bitdefender has written about such do-it-yourself kits since 2010, when a tool named Facebook Hacker promised passwords and usernames but delivered Trojans instead.
Online stalkers are among the Internet’s most serious concerns. On Facebook, users continue to be interested in finding out who saw their profile, a feature unavailable on the social network. Almost a quarter of Facebook scams offer users a fake method to see their “stalkers”, according to a study by Bitdefender.
People search engines are also used by social engineers to buy background information about their targets. In August, a Bitdefender report on online shopping showed how extra safety measures may become security breaches. At the time, scammers used a people search engine to gather information on 300 people, many of them members of the same family. Personal details included phone numbers, email addresses, street names, court and property records, and other private information such as marital status.