As social media has become increasingly influential in shaping reputations, hackers have used their computer skills to create and sell false endorsements – such as “likes” and “followers” – that purport to come from users of Facebook, its photo-sharing app Instagram, Twitter, Google’s YouTube, LinkedIn and other popular websites.
In the latest twist, a computer virus widely used to steal credit card data, known as Zeus, has been modified to create bogus Instagram “likes” that can be used to generate buzz for a company or individual, according to cyber experts at RSA, the security division of EMC Corp.
These fake “likes” are sold in batches of 1000 on internet hacker forums, where cyber criminals also flog credit card numbers and other information stolen from PCs. According to RSA, 1000 Instagram “followers” can be bought for $US15 ($16.31) and 1000 Instagram “likes” go for $US30, whereas 1000 credit card numbers cost as little as $US6.
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