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Beware of social networking sites

Jack Loo | April 9, 2010
Personal information can be easily lifted off these applications by third-party developers

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 APRIL 2010 - Social networking sites such as Facebook not only offer a whole new world of opportunities, but also open up dangers, according to executives at the Computerworld Security Forum in Malaysia yesterday.

With 400 million users, Facebook is one of the most popular social applications in the world. These tools are created to allow people to share and meet online, according to Joe Lim, country lead, e-Cop.

But over half a billion people on various social networks have made available a massive amount of personal information on them. It is possible for third parties to obtain these private data, via applications installed on the social network sites such as games and social interaction tools. For instance, Facebook alone has over 55,000 external applications, said Lim.

The Sophos Security Threat Report 2010 identified that 57 per cent of social networking users report being hit by spam an increase of 70.6 per cent compared to a year ago, according to Che Mun Foong, channel manager, Malaysia, Sophos. Meanwhile, the study said that 30 per cent encountered phishing attacks, a jump of 42.9 per cent from the year before.

Answering a question from a conference attendee on whether Facebook should be banned from the office environment, Alex Ng, product manager, Southeast Asia, Kaspersky Lab, said stopping Facebook in the workplace means effectively challenging your users to do something else to access the tool. When there are credit fraud cases, does it mean we have to ban the bank or stop using the card? added e-Cops Lim.

To minimise the risks of losing ones data when using these social networking sites, Kaspersky Labs Ng suggested that for sites such as Facebook, create a bookmark for the log-in page, or type the URL directly into the browser address bar, avoid clicking on links in e-mail messages, and only type in confidential data on secure websites. Awareness of the latest malware and phishing attacks also helps prevent users from falling into the same traps, said e-Cops Lim.


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