Social media users play into cyber criminals’ hands

G Data Security Survey highlights risky user behaviour on social networking sites

08/16/2011 | London 

Social media users are playing into cyber criminals’ hands through risky behaviour, according to a recent study by the Internet security specialist, G Data.

The international report entitled “How do users assess threats on the Internet?” reveals that nearly one in five users click on all published links when using social media, regardless of who they are from. With the rise of social media, one of the most popular trends among users is to provide links to interesting web content. Unfortunately cyber criminals are increasingly capitalising on this behaviour to entice users to click on links to virus-infested sites and thus infect their PCs with malware. Market leader Facebook alone is said to have well over 700 million members worldwide, which translates to 130 million users being careless enough to fall into the traps of cyber-criminals. However, the results of the survey also highlight differences between user groups: Older users are considerably more cautious in their use of portals than younger ones and women are somewhat more security-conscious than men.

"Cyber-criminals are increasingly using social networks to distribute malware," explains Eddy Willems, G Data Security Evangelist. "One of the most popular scams is the deliberate distribution of malicious code via links posted on portals. A link to an alleged scandalous video leads directly to a website infected with malicious code. Users cannot easily recognise these dangerous links as the addresses are significantly abbreviated. Using security solutions with a built-in http scan adds additional security and should be mandatory."

The study, which investigated and analysed the behavior of almost 16,000 web users in 11 countries, was conducted by G Data as part of its ongoing commitment to providing security solutions that reassure web users and allow them to enjoy the benefits of the Internet without hindrance.

Fig. 1  Total result for all countries.

Harriet Lammie