Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cybercrime shakes up trust in Facebook, Friendster

Nearly two-thirds of people who use social networking websites such as Facebook and Friendster are less likely to share information in their public profiles due to security concerns, according to a global survey sponsored by RSA, the security division of EMC Corp. The survey, conducted last October 2009 by market research firm InfoSurv, Inc., interviewed 4,539 active Internet users between the ages of 18 and 65 in 22 countries across North America, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific. The survey showed that 81 percent of online users are concerned about the safety of their personal information online. It noted that social networking websites have become a hotbed for online criminals because of their global reach and the participation by hundreds of millions of active users from all walks of life. “Fraudsters continue to fine-tune their array of tactics that result in millions of computers becoming infected with Trojans and other malware,” said RSA senior vice-president Christopher Young. "These online criminals are adept at social engineering with at-the-ready phishing attacks that are launched within moments of breaking news about popular celebrities, professional athletes or serious global events. In these cases, people are lured to legitimate websites infected with malware as well as complete fakes designed to look like well-known news sources." Young said trojans can easily be masked as "required" updates to a media player which can result in countless computers becoming infected with malware. The survey also showed growth in the number of victims of phishing attacks despite increasing awareness of the online threat. In 2007, only 38 percent of Internet users said they were aware of phishing threats. This number doubled to 76 percent, according to the 2009 survey. On the other hand, 29% of consumers said they became victims of phishing scams in 2009, compared to only 5% in 2007. The sheer volume of phishing attacks launched in recent months is also contributing to these trends. The RSA Anti-Fraud Command Center recently reported3 their highest-yet detected rates of phishing attacks between August and October 2009 and a 17 percent increase in the total number of attacks between 2008 and 2009. An increase in consumer knowledge of online threats is further evident from the growth in the number of respondents that expressed awareness of Trojans. In 2007, 63 percent of consumers stated that they were aware of Trojans and in 2009 that figure climbed to 81 percent.

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