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Cybercriminals See Social Networking Websites As Soft Target

According to the annual report of Cisco Systems Inc. on network security, users, rather than technology, play a critical role in providing opportunities to cybercriminals.

Cisco says that in November 2009, around 2% of the entire web traffic at offices were connected with social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace; 1.35% of this traffic belonged to Facebook alone.

The firm added that though this traffic rate doesn't appear much, businesses have been unsuccessful in training their employees about protection against online scams like viruses. These scams can well infiltrate corporate systems when the employees surf the social networking websites for their personal use.

The impact of social media on computer security cannot be overestimated. Blending personal and professional communication on social networks is a very common thing now-a-days, and this common act further blemishes the network perimeter, states Cisco's report, as reported by sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com on December 8, 2009.

Henry Stern, Senior Security Researcher at Cisco explained that the most prominent illegal innovation that exploits the social networking account of a user is Koobface, as reported by itworldcanada.com on December 8, 2009.

The researcher further said that as compared to previous attacks purporting as e-mails from strangers or organizations, users are more vulnerable to Koobface. This is because the e-mails appear to be sent by friends whom the users trust.

Stern pointed that the messages delivered through Koobface contain links redirecting users to Web pages which appear similar to social networking websites like Google Reader, MySpace, and Twitter or YouTube.

Further, along with the social networks, Cisco also sees risk in URL shortening services technology which has evolved to support these websites. This is because the technology cuts the user's ability to check the original Web address and determine if it is safe to follow the link.

Cisco's annual report, apart from the news on social networking sites and the malware linked with them, also notes that 1 of 600 PDF files, 1 of every 2000 JavaScript files, and 1 out of every 3000 Flash files contain malware.

Related article: Cheburgen.a: A New Email Worm

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