Beware of Pinterest Spam and Scams

Now that Pinterest has become a popular social networking site, the sadly inevitable has come to pass: it's attracted the attention of spammers. They'll always go to where the traffic is—especially if it's previously unexploited territory. That makes Pinterest a very ripe target.

Pinterest is a sort of virtual corkboard where users can "pin" images they found around the web. Each pin links back to its original location, so that people looking at a user's pinboard can find the site where they can (for example) buy that fabulous-looking sofa or learn more about lemurs. That's the way it works under normal circumstances. But if a user's account is compromised, a hacker could pin images that link to bogus surveys, endless popups, or fraudulent sites. And unfortunately, that's what we've seen happening lately.

Additionally, a user's Pinterest account can tie in to Facebook and Twitter. As a result, some compromised accounts have been pushing spam to those other sites. One form of spam has been promotions of work-from-home schemes, although doubtless there are others.

Pinterest has said that its site hasn't been compromised—hackers haven't broken into Pinterest databases or servers. Instead, it's more likely that hackers discovered the passwords of individual users through phishing or other methods. After all, a large number of people still re-use passwords from site to site (a big no-no) or use easy-to-crack passwords (such as "password"—really).

For Pinterest users with compromised accounts, a simple password re-set seems to remedy the problem. The company has also taken the step of re-setting passwords for accounts that appear to have been compromised. This can be somewhat inconvenient for someone whose account hasn't actually been breached, but it's definitely a plus for those who have been victimized by hackers.

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