Social media security warning

Social media safety concerns

Social media professionals have been reminded about the importance of staying secure, following the publication of a new cybercrime study.

The Internet Security Threat Report volume XV is based on a combination of first-hand research, hacker communication intercepts and tens of millions of web sensors. It found that an increasing number of hackers took freely available information on social media sites and used it to deliver attacks on employees of targeted companies across 2009.

Socially-engineered attacks

In particular, it appears that cybercriminals are organising so-called 'socially engineered attacks'. These are where users are tricked into facilitating the security breach by entering details on phishing sites, responding to spam or downloading malware to vulnerable video players and document readers.

More generally, the Internet Security Threat Report volume XV indicated that the total amount of malicious code has doubled in a year. Symantec claimed that 240 million distinct malware programs were identified over the course of 2009 with countries such as Brazil, India, Vietnam, Poland and Russia increasingly becoming the source and target of cyber attacks.

Stephen Trilling, senior vice president of security technology and response at Symantec, commented: "Attackers have evolved from simple scams to highly sophisticated espionage campaigns targeting some of the world's largest corporations and government entities. The scale of these attacks and the fact that they originate from across the world makes this a truly international problem."

Cyber attacks have hit the headlines recently following a high-profile incident involving the world's largest search engine. In January 2010, Google uncovered what it described as a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" on the company emanating from China. As a result, Google relocated its servers to Hong Kong and closed down its Beijing office.