Criminals are using Facebook for ‘dark web’ activity

Over two billion people use Facebook to buy and sell goods, chat with each other and post vacation pictures. Now, according to a new report by Talos Intelligence, it’s also become part of the dark web, a place to sell credit card information, illegal contraband and much more.

What’s even more surprising, according to experts, is that this dark Web activity isn’t that dark or hard to find — criminals sell credit cards right out in the open. One quick search for a term like “carding” (a criminal term for selling credit cards) reveals dozens of Facebook Groups.

While Facebook is constantly trying to shut down these groups, they keep popping up.

One example: Talos posted screenshots of credit card numbers, complete with matching photo identification and the CVV code, available for as little as $25 each (all obscured to protect identities). While illegal, the sellers are hard to track down since they use false identities.

“Cybercriminals are fairly brazen due to non-extradition policies and trying to monetize their malicious activities,” said Byron Rashed, a spokesperson for security firm Centripetal Networks. “Many are very good at hiding their location, real identity and covering their tracks.”

Facebook told Fox News that it has clamped down against the groups. “These Groups violated our policies against spam and financial fraud and we removed them,” explained a spokeswoman, via email. “We know we need to be more vigilant and we’re investing heavily to fight this type of activity.”

According to Emily Wilson, the VP of Research at security company Terbium Labs, the groups tend to proliferate quickly and the massive social network can’t keep pace.

“Facebook has clearly made some decisions on resource allocation for shutting down these groups and cybercrime seems relatively low on Facebook’s priority list,” she said. “Fraud — whether account takeover, payment card fraud, phishing schemes, you name it — is unduly relegated to the bottom of everyone’s list and these criminal groups know that.”

Laurence Pitt, security strategy director at Juniper Networks, told Fox News the Facebook Group activity does protect one group of users — the criminals posting the items for sale.

“No one wants to receive a message from their dark web messenger, but a Facebook or Twitter notification is both common and innocent in its look, but not in its meaning,” he said. Accessing the dark web is also complex, requiring the use of multiple virtual private networks, complex logins and bypassing a myriad of security certificates. Facebook is fast and easy.

As the experts all noted, the real reason criminals use Facebook Groups is that they want to reach the masses and the masses use Facebook. By posting in a group and listing their items for sale, with pictures and details about what’s available, the criminals attract a much larger audience who are more likely to join the group, simply by doing a quick search.

The question is what to do about it.

Wilson from Terbium Labs said one key is for the tech giants like Facebook and other social media companies like Twitter to make crime-prevention a bigger priority. She added that new legislation governing dark web infiltration on social media is also paramount.

For the everyday consumer posting selfies and looking for a new sofa, the answer is more education about how to spot illegal activity — and report what you see.

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