Chatroulette: Gambling with Your Privacy

It gets worse. The researchers were able to fool individuals into thinking they were viewing video of a live person when in fact it was a recording. In other words, a scam artist who wanted to target you could spoof his or her identity to gain your interest and/or trust.

They also said it would be easy to write software that could intercept communications from both video chatters without either of them knowing about it -- the classic "man in the middle" attack.

What bad things could possibly happen from all this? Well, if you're out there flashing your ham on the Net, or just getting a little too cozy with a stranger who isn't your spouse, you could end up publicly humiliated, blackmailed, or divorced. If you're chatting with a stranger who's pretending to be someone they're not, they could socially engineer you out of valuable information (like your home address or birth date) or lure you to Web sites where your computer is infected with malware. You know, the usual Web scams, only this time it's up close and personal.

Hey, if the Old Spice Guy can craft a personal YouTube reply to a tweet, a crook can certainly target you via video chat.

The lessons to be gleaned from this: Just because you're not giving out your name doesn't mean you're anonymous. Your IP address won't nail your exact location the way a GPS device can, but it can come uncomfortably close -- and that information is available to every Web site you visit. Video chat is the next frontier for Web scams. And if you must talk to strangers via Chatroulette, try to keep your pants on, OK?

TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan keeps his pants on 24/7, even in the shower. Catch his unique brand of juvenile snark at eSarcasm ("Geek Humor Gone Wild") or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech .

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