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Spam and Cybercrime Attacks on Twitter and Facebook Have Tripled in 2009

Posted on 02 February 2010 by SlimboCA

Malware, spam and spyware attacks are on the rise on social networks such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn.

In the last year, 57 percent of users report they have been spammed via social networking sites, an increase of 70.6 percent compared to last year. Furthermore, 36 percent of users claim they’ve been sent spyware via social networking sites, which is a rise of 69.8 percent from last year.

On the other hand, CEOs of companies are concerned that their employees’ usage of social networks is posing a security risk for their company. Sophos has surveyed more than 500 organizations, discovering that 72 percent of them think social networks are a danger for their companies, with 60 percent of them tagging Facebook as the biggest security risk, followed by MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Facebook is the biggest threat because it’s the biggest social network out there, but some of the blame can be placed on Facebook’s own privacy rules. When Facebook rolled-out its new recommended privacy settings late last year, it was seen largely a backwards step, encouraging many users to share their information with everybody on the Internet.

Cyber-criminals are now also selling hacked usernames and passwords online to make hundreds of dollars. One Twitter account was offered at $1 000 in an underground hacker forum.

Hackers have maliciously been creating Internet data-stealing spyware since 2005. Now it’s becoming a growing problem on the Internet as these programs become more sophisticated. Some corrupt programs seek banking passwords, others hunt for online gaming credentials. But according to online security experts, the fastest-growing data stealers are generic spying programs which steal as much information as possible from their victims.

Cybercrooks are starting to realize that they can do more than simply swipe credit card numbers. In 2009 about 70,000 of these programs were identified, twice as many as the year before, and almost three times the number of banking password stealing programs.

Gmail accounts have been compromised and are put up for sale on Russian hacker forums, asking price 2500 rubles, or $82. RapidShare accounts going for $5 per month, as well as Skype, instant messaging and Facebook credentials being offered. The prices vary depending on the one who owns the account and the number of followers the person has. Attackers usually look for a trusted stepping stone from which to send malicious Twitter messages and infect more machines. A Twitter account, with just over 320 followers, has been offered at $1,000 in an underground hacker forum. Compared to MSN accounts, which have been seen priced at €1 (USD$1.40), the price for Twitter accounts is really high.

When the value of stolen credit cards and other types of credentials are added up, hackers can easily take in $1,000 worth of data after hacking just one computer.

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