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Malware has been around on the Internet for just about as long as anyone would care to remember, totaling hard drives, pestering users with ads and even controlling their computers. But as the Internet develops, so do the ways in which online villains use malware to cause online devastation.
If Internet 1.0 was about information, then Web 2.0 was about people. Suddenly we had user generated content – hundreds of thousands of people uploading details about their lives to sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – to name only a few. As much as the users of these services love them, so do malware developers. Here are three reasons why malware developers love social networking sites
Reasons Why Cyber Criminals Love Social Networking Sites
1. People are Trusting
In general, people are fairly cautious when surfing the Internet, especially on untrusted sites. The message to ‘know what you download before you download it’ is slowly getting through. All of that seems to go out the window however, when it comes to social networking sites. People think that only their friends are on their Facebook accounts, ergo, they are safe from malware.
In actual fact it is exactly the opposite. Malware developers normally expect up to ten times the success rate in targeting social networking sites compared with regular email. The logic is simple: if malware is sent to a friend’s Facebook account, the chances are that this friend will open, download and install the malware app… after all, it’s been “recommended” by someone that they know.
2. Social Networking Gives Birth to Customized Attacks
Phishing attacks used to be all about the numbers game. If you can send a hoax email to a million email accounts, the chances are that at least a few will fall for the bait. This technique of “throw in the dynamite and see what floats to the surface” phishing is losing favor to Spear Phishing attacks.
Spear Phishing is all about finding specific details out about the mark – their affiliations, their hobbies, their activities. Hackers then use this information to customize a specific malware attack for the intended victim, guaranteeing a much higher success rate for the cyber crook.
While this information could not be garnered except with the help of a public investigator, hackers are finding it easier and easier to find all of this information at one convenient location: the target’s Facebook page.
3. Applications Leave A Big Security Hole
Facebook allows developers to create applications for Facebook users – small programs and webscripts that the user adds to their profile that enables them to join fan groups to play poker to send gifts to their Facebook friends. While this is a great thing for legitimate developers, this ‘open source’ attitude also provides opportunities to malware developers.
While Facebook is very strict in their vetting process for these apps, malware developers commonly target users of existing apps that have security holes. In this way, malware developers have an easy way of distributing malicious programs through trusted applications and programs.
It is clear that the world has embraced social networking with open arms, and the adoption of this technology has literally changed the face of the Internet. With that said, social networking has also transformed the way in which online villains can distribute malware easily and quickly with great rates of success.
While it is important not to be scared using the Internet for what you want to use it for, it certainly servers as a reminder to remain security conscious – even when chatting with your friends online.