Social Networks Face Hike in Attacks

Thursday, August 18, 2011 @ 04:08 PM gHale

Cyber criminals continue to target social networks, which is forcing users to take more steps to protect online privacy, a new survey said.

A survey of nearly 4,000 social-network users in the U.S., U.K., and Australia found the number of people hit by Koobface and other social-networking malware reached 18 percent this year, compared with 13 percent last year and 8 percent in 2009, according to the survey by security company Webroot.

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In the United Kingdom specifically, the number of social networks hit by attacks climbed to 15 percent this year, up from 12 percent last year and 6 percent the prior year.

One notable attack that’s grown more popular is the “friend in distress” scam in which a cybercrook masquerades as a friend stuck in a foreign country in need of money. In the U.S., this type of online scam went to 14 percent of those polled this year, compared with 2 percent in 2009, the survey said.

“Threats targeting social networks are continuously being regenerated in new versions so their makers can evade detection and spread their malicious programs relentlessly across users’ accounts,” said Jacques Erasmus, Webroot threat expert. “Over the last nine months, our threat intelligence network has detected more than 4,000 versions of the Koobface virus hit social network users.”

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