'Alarming' rise in cyberattacks at social networks: Sophos

Feb 01, 2010
The frontpage of Twitter, a leading Internet microblogging site. There has been an "alarming" rise in spammers and hackers hunting for victims at online social networks, according to a report released Monday by computer security firm Sophos.

There has been an "alarming" rise in spammers and hackers hunting for victims at online social networks, according to a report released Monday by computer security firm Sophos.

A "Social Security" investigation revealed an "explosion" of spam messages and nefarious software targeting users of social networks such as Facebook and .

"Computer users are spending more time on social networks, sharing sensitive and valuable personal information, and hackers have sniffed out where the money is to be made," said Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley.

"Social networks and their millions of users have to do more to protect themselves from organized , or risk falling prey to identity theft schemes, scams, and malware attacks."

Facebook last month announced an alliance with Internet security specialty firm McAfee to get members of the world's leading online social network to better defend their computers.

"Facebook is by far the largest social network -- and you'll find more bad apples in the biggest orchard," explained Cluley.

"The truth is that the team at Facebook works hard to counter threats on their site -- it's just that policing 350 million users can't be an easy job for anyone."

Facebook users whose accounts are breached by or other cyberattacks will need to have their computers cleansed by McAfee before returning to life in the online community.

Facebook members are also being offered free six-month subscriptions to McAfee and then discounted prices for continued service.

McAfee and Facebook have collaborated on a free tool for cleaning up infected computers.

"If we get people's machines this protection, it is better for them, for Facebook, and the Internet as a whole," Facebook director of communications and public policy Barry Schnitt said at the time of the announcement.

The Sophos study found that 57 percent of users reported getting spam in their virtual communities in what amounted to a 70.6 percent jump from the prior year.

Some 36 percent of social network users queried said they had been sent software worms, viruses or other types of "malware" in what amounted to a 69.8 percent leap from the previous 12-month period, according to Sophos.

Sophos's report also indicated that 49 percent of firms allow workers unfettered access to Facebook in a 13 percent rise from the previous year.

"The grim irony is that just as companies are loosening their attitude to staff activity on social networks, the threat of malware, spam, phishing and identity theft on is increasing," said Cluley.

Explore further: Facebook 'newspaper' spells trouble for media

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facebook teams with McAfee to tighten security

Jan 13, 2010

Facebook has announced an alliance with Internet security specialty firm McAfee to get user of the world's leading online social network to better protect their computers.

Facebook fights 'phishing' scam

May 01, 2009

Facebook Thursday said it has blocked a link at the heart of a "phishing" scam being used to dupe members into revealing passwords to accounts at the social networking website.

Social networking aggregator sues Facebook

Jul 10, 2009

(AP) -- In a counter-punch to the world's biggest online hangout, a small Web company called Power.com has sued Facebook, saying it doesn't follow its own policy of giving users control over their content.

Spam down but 'zombie' armies growing: McAfee

May 07, 2009

Hackers appear to be beefing up armies of "zombie" computers to recover from a major hit scored in the battle against spam email, according to software security firm McAfee.

Recommended for you

Spotify prompts industry debates on streaming

7 hours ago

From board rooms in Japan to songwriter's rooms in Nashville, a debate is brewing in music industry circles about the financial and creative value of streaming music, even as its popularity and impact skyrocket.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

THoKling
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2010
Step 1: Gather wood into a pile.
Step 2: Light wood and build fire in accordance with masochistic preference.
Step 3: Place foot in and allow to bake for fifteen minutes.

Alternately, you can sign up at Facebook and/or other participating sites and ignore the ToS. Facebook has the right to share your private information with third parties. Didja know?

There are many reasons pertaining to security and privacy which would warrant avoiding social networking sites. Search your favourite Web search engine with the terms 'facebook' and 'security', or substitute "facebook" with the name of the social networking site you enjoy. 30 minutes of reading might help you determine whether you'd rather trust good old Email over social networks.

(Anyone know of any reputable networks worth joining?)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.