Security

More Facebooking, More Malware

Security solutions firm F-Secure Malaysia says greater vigilance is needed as the use of social networking is gathering pace compared to e-mail.

malware
Artwork: Chip Taylor
F-Secure Malaysia senior security response manager, Chia Wing Fei, said the company noted the significant shift from e-mail to instant communication channels provided by social networking sites. "This trend has important security implications as this means greater vigilance is required against links and messages sent from hacked accounts."

"According to statistics from research firm Nielsen, the number of users on social networking and other community sites increased by 31 per cent in the period August 2008 -- August 2009, while e-mail use increased by 21 per cent," said Chia. "It may be too early to pronounce that e-mail is dead but the figures do highlight a growing trend."

"Cyber criminals have already responded to the changing patterns of communication by focusing more activity on popular social networks," he said.

Learning to be Skeptical

"Instead of logging in and out of the Internet to send their e-mail, many people are no

social network
Artwork: Chip Taylor
w constantly online with their computers and mobile phones," Chia said. "Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have grown rapidly as people are making use of the constant stream of fast communications that they enable."

"E-mail account addresses can be faked and people are used to getting mail from 'unknown' persons, so they are sceptical of links sent via e-mail," he said. "It is often more difficult to recognise when a member of their social network has been hacked.'

"People have not yet learned to be sceptical of the links forwarded by their 'friends' in social networks, which can lead to infection from malware or to websites promoting rogue products," he said.

He said cyber criminals sought opportunities to make money from hacking Facebook and other social networking accounts, where the high level of personal trust within communities of friends provided an ideal cover for scams and for spreading malware.

"Instant communications are fun, personal and useful but everyone should also be aware of the new security risks involved," said Chia. "Links sent from hacked accounts and requests for financial help from so-called friends are bound to increase as social networking sites become ever more popular."

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