Cyber scams rife at social networks: Microsoft

May 12, 2011 by Glenn Chapman
File photo shows a Pakistani browsing the Internet at a cyber cafe in Karachi. Social networks are "lucrative hot beds" for cyber scams as crooks endeavor to dupe members of online communities, according to a Microsoft security report released on Thursday.

Social networks are "lucrative hot beds" for cyber scams as crooks endeavor to dupe members of online communities, according to a Microsoft security report released on Thursday.

"Phishing" attacks that use seemingly legitimate messages to trick people into clicking on booby-trapped links, buying bogus software, or revealing information rocketed 1,200 percent at social networks last year, it said.

"We continue to see evolve attack methods such as a significant rise in social network phishing," Microsoft malware protection center manager Vinny Gullotto said in the Security Intelligence Report.

Phishing using as a "lure" represented 84.5 percent of all such trickery in December as compared with 8.3 percent at the start of 2010, according to the report.

Microsoft analyzed data gathered from more than 600 million computer systems worldwide from July through December of last year for the semi-annual study.

"The popularity of has created new opportunities for cyber to not only directly impact users, but also friends, colleagues and family through impersonation," the report said.

"These techniques add to an existing list of social engineering techniques, such as financial and product promotions, to extort money or trick users into downloading malicious content."

Social engineering is a reference to fooling people to access machines or data instead of trying to hack into networks using software skills.

Microsoft noticed a "polarization" of cyber and a surge in the use of "marketing-like" deception tactics to steal money from people.

"On one side, highly sophisticated criminals skilled at creating exploits and informed with intelligence about a target's environment pursue high-value targets with large payoffs," the report said.

"On the other side, there are cyber criminals using more accessible attack methods, including social engineering tactics and leveraging exploits created by the more skilled criminals, to take a small amount of money from a large number of people."

Criminals used malicious software to trick people with false advertisements, fake , and pay-per-click schemes that generate cash when Internet links are activated, according to .

Detections of software crafted to infect machines with pop-up advertisements meanwhile rose 70 percent from the middle of last year to the end of December, the report indicated.

"With more consumers and devices coming online every day, cyber criminals now have more opportunities than before to deceive users through attack methods like adware, phishing and rogue security software," said Graham Titterington of Britain-based analyst firm Ovum.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to decipher legitimate communications and promotions given the sophistication of tools criminals are using."

Rogue security software, referred to as "scareware," was one of the most common ways for cyber criminals worldwide to bilk people out of money and steal information from computers.

The ploy seeks to dupe Internet users by pretending to find viruses and other problems on computers and then offering to sell a program to fix the situation. The software being hawked is a virus.

Computer users were advised to guard against threats by keeping programs updated, using reputable software, and not clicking links or opening files without making certain they are safe.

Explore further: Facebook fights 'phishing' scam

Related Stories

Facebook fights 'phishing' scam

May 1, 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.

Cyber criminals cloak their tracks

February 13, 2008

The 2007 X-Force Security report from IBM finds a disturbing rise in the sophistication of attacks by criminals on Web browsers worldwide. According to IBM, by attacking the browsers of computer users, cyber criminals are ...

Recommended for you

Automated safety systems are preventing car crashes

August 23, 2017

Safety systems to prevent cars from drifting into another lane or that warn drivers of vehicles in their blind spots are beginning to live up to their potential to significantly reduce crashes, according to two studies released ...

Newest solar cells underperform in cloudy countries

August 22, 2017

To determine how efficient new solar cells convert sunlight into electricity, small sample cells are tested under ideal conditions. However, the reported efficiency is not very representative of the actual annual yield when ...

Google to serve next version of Android as 'Oreo"

August 22, 2017

An upcoming update to Google's Android software finally has a delectable name. The next version will be known as Oreo, extending Google's tradition of naming each version after a sweet treat.

Forget oil, Russia goes crazy for cryptocurrency

August 16, 2017

Standing in a warehouse in a Moscow suburb, Dmitry Marinichev tries to speak over the deafening hum of hundreds of computers stacked on shelves hard at work mining for crypto money.

Researchers clarify mystery about proposed battery material

August 15, 2017

Battery researchers agree that one of the most promising possibilities for future battery technology is the lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) battery, which could provide three times as much power for a given weight as today's ...


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.