Celebs Need to Take Online Security Seriously

By Jen Evans

There will be a lot of Little Monsters feeling less than festive this morning, after an online phishing scam fooled over 100,000 Lady Gaga fans.

Posts on the singer’s Twitter and Facebook pages offered fans a chance to win a “Lady Gaga Edition iPad”. They were then asked to click on a link to a site requesting their personal details.

The “giveaway” was backed up by a tantalising Facebook post stating “Lady Gaga’s new iPad comes out in 3 days”. The security breach was rectified late last night, with Lady Gaga posting on both networks to express her relief that the embarrassing debacle was over.  

Gaga wasn’t the only star hit – with reports indicating that Nelly Furtado and Maroon 5 experienced similar attacks. What makes the Lady Gaga case intriguing is how the hackers tapped into the loyalty and trust the singer has established with her fans.

With over 45 million Facebook fans and over 17 million Twitter followers, it seems careless of the page/profile administrators to let a security breach of this sort occur. Graham Cluley, of the Naked Security blog, pointed out that “it’s not terribly good for the brand to annoy your fans or put them at risk”. Interestingly, there has been no apology to fans for the security lapse. 

Hackers regularly steal the starlight of celebrities to help with their nefarious pursuits. Earlier in the year, Facebook was awash with malicious links claiming “Lady Gaga found DEAD in hotel room” or “Justin Bieber STABBED by CRAZED fan”. It is easy to think that anyone who clicked on these links was an idiot.

It isn’t always the case – Gaga is renowned for a wild lifestyle and Bieber fans are pretty crazed. The stories are, at a basic level, believable. Falling for giveaways or free giftcard scams is slightly dumber. The cliché “too good to be true” is overused for a reason.

2011 has been a year of dubious vintage for celebrity hacking scandals – figures as diverse as Lil’ Wayne, Ashton Kutcher, Simon Pegg, Kirsty Allsop and the Prime Minister of Thailand have all fallen foul of Twitter hackers.

It is naïve to assume that a celebrity’s social media presence, particularly Facebook, is always a direct link to the individual. They have teams who monitor and update on their behalf, analysing interactions and maximising the marketing potential of the platform.

Celebrities and public figures need to invest in securing their online presence - fans will only take so much of this crap. A phishing scam or a virus is about more than damaging a brand; it also damages the individual who fell for it – silly and naïve as they may be.

Whilst Lady Gaga might not be personally responsible for the scam, her team need to acknowledge that a lack of vigilance on their behalf is partly to blame. Facebook and Twitter are great ways to link fans and celebrities. They help to establish affection, trust and loyalty – assets that money can’t buy. Celebrities need to be aware that these assets are hard won but oh-so-easily lost.

Image via Zimpenfish's Flickr

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 15:02 (GMT+00)
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