Social Networking Security Threats: A Look At Sophos' Security Report

Security Threats In 2011

Social networking has become a major target for scammers and cybercriminals as the number of users of Facebook, Twitter and others continues to climb skyward. And users are realizing that social networking sites have become a haven for malicious hackers, crackers and jackers, according to the recent findings highlighted in security vendor Sophos' Security Threat Report 2011, which examines security threats in 2010 compared to the year prior.

Here, we take a look at some of Sophos' recent findings around social networking security, including some stats from the Security Threat Report 2011.

Social Networking Attacks On The Rise

Sophos found that in December 2010 the reports of spam, phishing and malware attacks via social networking sites reached its highest point yet. From April 2009 to December 2010, reports of spam, phishing and malware attacks from social networking sites nearly doubled in all three categories.

Employee Social Networking A Security Risk?

In its social networking survey conducted in December 2010, Sophos asked survey respondents if they think their employees' behavior on social networking sites could endanger corporate security. Fifty-nine percent said yes; the remaining 41 percent said no.

Facebook Could Learn From Apple

In an October 2010 Sophos poll of more than 1,000 people, Sophos asked social networking users if Facebook should follow Apple's example and security-check all third party apps running on its site. Of those surveyed, 95.51 percent said tighter restrictions would increase Facebook app security.


The U.S. probably shouldn't be cheering about being number one in this category. Here are the top 10 countries hosting malware. The U.S. holds the top spot with 39.39 percent. It even beat out "other."

Malware Via E-Mail Attachment! Oh my!

When ranking the top malware that is spread via e-mail attachment, Sophos puts Mal/BredoZp, a malicious piece of spyware, at the top of the list.

Can't Quit You

In May, Sophos asked 1,588 Facebook users if they would quit Facebook over privacy concerns. While Sophos admits that the results are highly unscientific, 60 percent said they would possibly quit or were highly likely to, while more than 25 percent said either no or they didn't think they would quit.

Not Doing Enough

In August, Sophos examined cybercrime and users' perception of it. As part of that survey, Sophos asked users of they thought their country was doing enough to protect itself from a cyber attack by another nation. A whopping 54 percent didn't think their country was protecting them adequately, while only 6 percent thought their country was doing enough.

Web During Wartime

While not specific to social networking, Sophos in August asked 1,077 computer users worldwide about their attitude toward international cybercrime and cyber-espionage. As part of that research, the company asked users whether they thought it was acceptable for their country to spy on other nations by hacking and installing malware. Forty percent said spying via hacks and malware is ok during wartime; 23 percent said it's OK at any time; and 37 percent said it is never acceptable.