Malware and Spam Increase 70 percent on Social Networks

Cybercriminals have increasingly focused their attacks on social networking users, with an explosion in the reports of spam and malware in the past 12 months, according to a new report from Sophos, an IT security and data protection company.

According to the report, 57 percent of respondents said they have been spammed via social networking sites in the last 12 months, an increase of 70.6 percent from last year. In addition, 36 percent said they have been sent malware through the same medium, accounting for an increase of 69.8 percent from last year.

“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 Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “The dramatic rise in attacks in the last year tells us that social networks and their millions of users have to do more to protect themselves from organized cybercrime, or risk falling prey to identity theft schemes, scams, and malware attacks.”

When asked which social network they believed posed the biggest security risk, 60 percent said Facebook, while 18 percent said MySpace. Twitter and LinkedIn followed behind with 17 percent and four percent, respectively.

While Cluley acknowledged that Facebook is the largest social networking site “and you’ll find more bad apples in the biggest orchard,” he also noted that the social networking company took a backwards step last year when after rolling out its new recommended privacy settings it encouraged many users to share information with everybody on the Internet.

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