by: Yann Gourvennec

In a Wall Street Journal article entitled Web Scammer Targets Senior U.S. Executives is an amazing account of a Mr Stewart’s chase for the uncovering of a Romanian scammer, complete with Mr Stewart’s extraordinary biography (a guy who 15 years ago was mopping the floor is in McDonald’s restaurants and had barely a dime and couldn’t even buy a computer, and has now become a world leading expert in computer security).

In the article, Mr Stewart explains one phase at a time how he was able to retrace the steps of a scammer named Raynor, despite the decoys the latter had deployed in China. Unfortunately, the chase is not over, and Raynor is still on the run.

But this article is also very interesting for another reason. It describes how the scammer did get important information from top executives from online social networks like facebook or linkedIn. This poses a very serious threat to the development of Web 2.0/3.0 and collaboration on the Internet. Collaboration/wikinomics imposes transparency, whereas security is just the other way round. If harmful wrongdoers are using social networks to gain important information and then compose very elaborate phishing scams to steal personal details and money from senior executives, the latter will eventually cease to use social networks to exchange data in a transparent manner.

Unfortunately, I think it must be very hard to prevent such things from happening since there is virtually no sure way of ascertaining the authenticity of personal details in such social networks sites. Lastly, the article gives important information regarding the categories and percentages of data is stolen online (see diagram).

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