Social networking 'addiction' aids phishing

Social networking 'addiction' aids phishing

Summary: Security experts warn of a new wave of crime with the drastic rise in personalised phishing campaigns, with social networking at the heart of the problem. AusCERT's general manager Graham Ingram said on Tuesday that social networking sites -- such as MySpace and Facebook -- are having an enormous impact on security because of people's willingness to share personal information.

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Security experts warn of a new wave of crime with the drastic rise in personalised phishing campaigns, with social networking at the heart of the problem.

AusCERT's general manager Graham Ingram said on Tuesday that social networking sites -- such as MySpace and Facebook -- are having an enormous impact on security because of people's willingness to share personal information.

"Years ago you would write things [in a diary], personal things. Nowadays you write it on the Internet and you put it into sites like MySpace. The amount of information that exists if [criminals] want to get it is extraordinary," Ingram told ZDNet Australia.

Mark Sunner, MessageLabs chief security analyst, said spammers are already using personal information gathered from social networking sites. In a video interview at AusCERT 2007, he said the number of phishing e-mails has remained static over the past two years, but their content had become extremely personal.

"We're seeing peoples' names, postal codes and addresses. I think this is a symptom of an addiction with social networking sites such as MySpace or LinkedIn -- where people have willingly keyed in all this information about themselves.

"This is a goldmine of data for the bad guy community -- the bad guys now have the name, age, sex, geography, likes, family member's names. So the ability to make an attack very, very tailored is something we'll see play out for the remainder of 2007," said Sunner.

"God knows what's in front of us ... I don't believe we've adjusted to that new environment and what the cyberworld offers," added Ingram.

Topics: Networking, Malware, Security, AUSCERT, Social Enterprise

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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