Cyber Criminals Now Lurking In Social Networking Communities


Web 2.0 technologies supporting social networking, wikis and other community-oriented interaction are fertile ground for hackers with larceny on their minds, the study said.

In the six-month period from Jan. 1 to June 30, 1,501 vulnerabilities, or 61 percent of all security weaknesses reported, occurred in Web applications, Symantec said.

"As Web applications have been more widely deployed, they have been increasingly targeted by attackers as a means to circumvent network security measures, such as IDS/IPS and firewalls," the study said. "Social networking sites have proven fruitful for attackers because they give attackers access to large numbers of people, many of whom implicitly trust that the site -- and the content on it -- are secure. Attackers are increasingly targeting social networking sites as Web users are becoming wary of unsolicited e-mail attachments and other enticements."

Once compromised, such sites often can yield a treasure trove of user informaiton such as user names, paswords, and online account information. In turn, that information can be used for identity theft or fraud or to access other sites and launch further attacks such as hosting phishing sites using compromised ISP/Web hosting information, the study said. Phising attacks can gain information that in turn can be used to develop malicious code, often trojans, to steal information from other accounts or gather information for spamming.

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Paul Adamonis, director of security solutions for Forsythe Solutions Group, a Skokie, Ill.-based solution provider, said the multiple threats arising from this stolen information are potent.

"Our customers continue to face numerous types of threats and the Internet population as a whole is seeing more financially motivated attacks," Adamonis said. "These findings ring true with what Forsythe is seeing in the industry as the threat environment evolves."

David Masembwa, a senior system engineer, storage and security solutions, at DLT Solutions, of Herndon, Va., said that with cyber criminals using this infomation to develop a variety of threats, he expects an evolution toward more consolidated security solutions rather than an increase of specific point products.

"The survey's findings are on point," he said. "With this knowledge and foresight, we as a VAR can effectively position security and data protection solutions and services for our customers. "

The future lies, he said, in "being able to draw on 'best of breed' technologies and offer customers more effective comprehensive security solutions."

The Internet Security Threat Report, issued every six months, is based on information from Symantec's Global Intelligence Network, which consists of more than 40,000 sensors monitoring network activity in 180 countries.

The report said it is important for businesses to realize attacks using stolen infomation can come in multiple forms an affect several areas that used to be served by different business groups.

"As attacks converge and become more complex than before, it is important to provide complete protection for computers and enterprise networks," the study said. "In the past different groups were often responsible for various aspects of enterprise network protection -- desktop protection, server and network operations, antivirus groups, and antispam teams. It is now imperative that these groups work more closely together and share information as a single threat can affect them all."

--With reporting by Jack McCarthy.