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Spam and Malware Attacks Through Social Networks Rose in 2009

An Internet security company 'Sophos' states in its newly-released report that cyber criminals increased their attacks at an alarming rate during 2009, making users of Twitter and Facebook vulnerable to malware, spam and identity theft.

While conducting a poll of 500 company participants, Sophos discovered that malware and spam attacks through social networking websites leaped 70% during 2009. According to the security company, over 50% of survey respondents reported of being targeted by spam and 36% reported of being attacked by malware, both through social-networking websites.

Explaining the reason for such a high increase, Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos, stated that people were using social networks for longer periods and shared their valuable and confidential private information with other visitors. This opened doors for hackers to sniff such data to make money, as reported by The Hindu on February 2, 2010.

Furthermore, Sophos' report finds that 72% of the responding companies are worried about employees' surfing habits on social-networking websites that can endanger their businesses by putting corporate data and infrastructure at risk.

On being asked, which social-networking website in their opinion accounted for the greatest online risk, 60% of the responding companies mentioned Facebook, 18% named MySpace, 17% -Twitter and 4% -LinkedIn.

Cluley further contented that although attacks via social networks were pretty lower than malware and spam attacks executed through e-mails, the volume of social networking assaults during January-December 2009 was high enough to cause worry, as reported by V3 on February 2, 2010.

In addition, Cluley said that while people were scanning their e-mails for trojans and spam, social-networking websites worked as another medium for attacking organizations. Users tended to click on web-links with a belief that they had come from someone known on the social network, he concluded.

According to security researchers, the social-networking websites are improving their tracking down and blocking systems. They still believe that these websites and their innumerable members should step up their action further for self defense against well-organized cyber-crime as well as against the danger of being victimized by malware attacks, scams and identity theft.

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