It looks like honeymoon period for Pintrest is over, as the popular content sharing service has now become the target of scams, according to Bitdefender.
The security vendor has found that scams, such as one that announces a limited-time Pinterest Visa gift giveaway, prompt users to ‘Share’ and ‘Like’ the news, which then takes them to a site that may carry potentially malicious content.
When asked why Pinterest has become the new target of scams, Bitdefender head of Online Threats Lab, Catalin Cosoi, attributes it to Pinterest's “triumphant entrance” into the social network space, where its user base apparently exceeds that of Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined and is currently viewed as the third most used social network.
“Another element that makes Pinterest an interesting target for scammers and spammers is that this newcomer to the online social network world combines Facebook and Twitter characteristics,” he said.
“As a result of this combination, Pinterest users get exposed to spam or scam messages even if the person spreading the word about them is not on their Follow list.”
While Cosoi says that scams have a tendency to reach people’s Facebook account exclusively via friends and friends of friends, the fact that everything is visible to everyone on Pinterest, since the service literally works like a board on which users pin all sorts of visual content.
“The Twitter side of Pinterest refers to users’ ability to Follow anyone, without explicitly asking for permission so that your Pins will appear featured on their boards,” he adds.
When it comes to identifying what loopholes exist on Pinterest that make these types of scams possible, Cosoi highlights that social scams “exploit human rather than platform vulnerabilities,” which has been proven in the past through the use of classic social baits such as leaked sex-tapes and gift cards on all major social networks.
“Therefore, the focus here should be on raising awareness among users about the risks of giving in to the temptation of watching x-rated or scandalous content, obtaining very generous gift card offers or free samples of the latest gadgets,” he said.
As for what users can do to protect themselves from the scams, Cosoi’s advice is to double check on the Internet first whether the offer of alluring videos/photos or money/gifts is a decoy to trap them.
In addition to Facebook and Twitter users being able to protect themselves with Bitdefender’s Safego solution, Bitdefender free TrafficLight tool can be used to help avoid going to web pages carrying potentially malicious content or set up for phishing landing from social network accounts.