A 'phishing' site that harvested the login and credentials of MySpace.com users was removed today from a California server, a security vendor has reported.
A phishing attack involves tricking users into visiting a lookalike web page that asks for personal information, which is then sent to a hacker.
The rich trove of personal information stored on MySpace user pages is making the social networking site an increasingly attractive target for identity theft, said Ross Paul, senior product manager at Websense, which makes security software.
The attack would not have been noticed by most users, Paul said. The attack starts when a user is sent a link via AOL's instant-messaging application or a similar program.
The link is from someone in the user's contact lists, asking them to click the link to MySpace to view photos, Paul said. The link leads to a fraudulent MySpace login page. Once the victim enters their information, they are then transparently logged into the real MySpace pages, Paul said.
But a hacker then has access to personal information stored by MySpace, such as someone's address and birthday, which could be used to open a bank account, Paul said.
A hacker can also tap other instant messaging contacts or email addresses to send out the link to the phishing site, which often is done using automated programs.
"The rising popularity of this kind of meeting place is obviously increasing the potential for financial gain," Paul said. "The more information you give MySpace, the more at risk you would be if someone managed to get hold of your login information."
MySpace, started in 2004 and bought by News Corporation last year, counts at least 73 million users and is growing. MySpace's 'viral' networking model allows friends of friends to connect easily, but sexual predators have also used its features to meet underage victims.
As a result, MySpace appointed a chief security officer in April and implemented careful page monitoring.