A Facebook friend is in trouble. Or is she?

Earlier today, I “retweetedDavid Strom, who pointed to this story: Woman’s Facebook Account Hacked, Friends Ripped Off. The short version is after the account was broken into, the bad-guy sent a message to all of her friends currently on-line. “The message sent to her friends was a desperate plea for cash. … ‘hey I’m in London I just got mugged, my phone, my credit card was stolen, please send money so I can get home.'”

My friend, Diane, replied to my repost on Facebook, and said, “That’s scary! Thanks for sharing!”

Let’s do more. What should you do? You should first take a deep breath. (No, not now! I mean, when you see such a plea purported to be from a friend.) It may be a real emergency, but that does not mean there is no time to think.

And that’s the next thing to do. Think. Is your friend really out of the country? Do you have her phone number? Can you phone her to check? Is she still on Facebook? Can you ask her to verify her identity?

That’s the third thing. Verify. If she is a friend, surely there is a way to do this that is not already in her profile on Facebook. If you cannot come up with a way to verify her identity, then she is probably not close enough of a friend for you to wire $1000 to her. (Remember, she didn’t say she was stuck in an Afghan prison, she said “London.” Not so bad, really. She can wait a bit. And if she says she is in an Afghan prison, don’t believe it. They do not have Internet-connected computers in the cells. At least I doubt it.) In fact, that is what the victim recommends in the news story.

Breath. Think. Verify.


Note to Self re: Dates on Documents

I will always put a date on every report or document I produce, that is not going to get one added automatically. (E.g., blog entries and emails get a time stamp added; I don’t have to.)

I bet that literally half of the papers—white papers and other reports—I find on the Internet have no indication of when they were written. If I am looking for something on, let’s say, “Traffic Generation Systems,” (network test devices), and I find a paper “LARIAT: Lincoln Adaptable Real-time Information Assurance Testbed, I believe it would be nice to have, somewhere clearly visible, an indication of when it was written. I am not picking on the writers of this paper. As I said, probably half of the academic reports on the Internet suffer from a lack of a time stamp indicating when it was written.