Firm asks why Facebook and others aren't doing more

Sophos reports huge rise in social networking security threats

Security outfit Sophos has reported a massive increase in security threats related to social networking sites such as Facebook.

The firm’s Security Threat Report 2011 (pdf) reported on results of the ‘Social Security survey’ which polled users about their experiences relating to social networking sites such as Facebook.

Sophos has been repeatedly critical of social networking in previous reports but this time the company ratcheted up warnings off on the basis of an alarming rise in threats eminating from the popular social web sites.

The survey found that 40 percent of social networking users had received malware via social networking sites which represented a 90 per cent increase from 2009. 

Over two thirds also said that they have been spammed, and 43 per cent had also been targeted by a social networking site focused phising attack with spam and phising both up more than double over the levels in 2009.

"Rogue applications, clickjacking, survey scams — all unheard of just a couple of years ago, are now popping up on a daily basis on social networks such as Facebook," said Sophos consultant Graham Cluley.

"Why aren’t Facebook and other social networks doing more to prevent spam and scams in the first place?" he asked.

One of the Facebook specification features Sophos expressed concern about was the automatic tagging of photos with the identities of those pictured. 

"For individuals who like to keep their personal details and activities private, this could easily be seen as an intrusion," they said while pointing out that such identification could act as a gateway for malicious activity through other threats such as rogue applications and malware.

Astonoshingly, 82 per cent of those surveys recognised Facebook as the greatest risk to their security. 

"With furious debate raging every time privacy and security settings are tweaked on Facebook, it seems that functionality and ease-of-use triumph over security every time," Sophos opined in the firm’s 2011 Security Threat Report.

Sophos also reported that France had jumped into second place among countries hosting malware, ahead of Russia, Germany and China while the US retains the dubious honour of the world’s most popular malware host.

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