Social networks are ‘easier targets for cyber criminals’
Published 19/01/2011 | 10:54
Cyber criminals are enjoying greater degrees of success on social networks because they are easier to target and users are more likely to fall for scams sent by supposed ‘friends’, according to security analysts.
IT security firm, Sophos’s annual Security Threat Report, has uncovered a sharp rise in the amount of cyber crime attacks on social network users – but why?
According security analysts, there are two reasons for the increase. Firstly email services’ anti-spam security measures are incredibly sophisticated compared to social networks’ respective security precautions.
Consequently cyber criminals are able to attack social network users with greater ease. And secondly, spam is more effective on sites like Twitter and Facebook, because people trust the users sending the infected messages.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, explained: “People have grown wise to email spam. They recognise all the warning signs now.
"But a lot more people are tricked by spam messages sent by their “friends” on sites like Facebook – as they have a position of trust….When people have been at the receiving end of a phishing attack [where their login details have been intercepted], the cyber criminal, can then access of that user’s personal information and use it to send very convincing emails asking for favours, such as money to be wired, as the spammer pretends to be a user’s ‘friend’ in trouble.”
Analysts have advised people to take down as much personal information as possible from sites like Facebook, which are plagued with ‘rogue applications’, which go largely unvetted. But they are also calling for the social networks to step up and help protect their users.
Cluley added: “Spam criminals are moving to social networks. I would love to see social networks be more stringent about password strength and better advise people on how to protect themselves.
However, at the moment, all the focus is on making sign-ups as quick and pain free as possible, so that they keep on growing their user base…on sites like Facebook, where members don’t pay, users are the product and not the customer.”