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Study Shows One in Five Facebook Users are Victims of Malware Exposure
By: wubayou
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    2010-12-02

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    BitDefender, a manufacturer of security software, has just released some statistics on online security regarding Facebook. The statistics were gathered from users of BitDefender's Facebook application known as Safego. They show that a solid percentage of the social network's users are being exposed to malware within the confines of the site.

    BitDefender created the Safego application so that Facebook users could determine whether or not their profiles have sufficient levels of privacy and if they are infected with malware. Data from approximately 14,000 users of the Safego app was analyzed to come up with BitDefender's latest statistics. 

    Considering that Facebook's overall membership exceeds the 500 million member mark, some might say that a sample size of 14,000 is not representative of the whole story. Still, it can give a small glimpse into the dangers currently surrounding the social networking platform. The statistics may be a bit conservative, however, since most users of the Safego app could be more conscious of their online security. A person who does not care to use such an app, for instance, may be more prone to clicking on malicious and fraudulent links, and statistics regarding their profiles may give the impression that Facebook is becoming a more threatening online environment.

    Using Safego's statistics, BitDefender found that 20 percent of Facebook users had exposure to malicious posts. These posts exist in the news feed section of the site, which displays recent activity from friends within the network. Posts are categorized as malicious if they allow hackers to hijack the person's profile after clicking on the post's link. This action usually sets off a chain reaction, as the hijacked account then posts malicious links on friends' walls in an attempt to spread even further.

    BitDefender also found that third-party applications were a major source of malware on Facebook. In all, 60 percent of attacks were transmitted via notifications from phony third-party apps. Over 21 percent of the third-party app attacks came from those promising to let members see who un-friended them or who viewed their profiles. Many Facebook users would like to use such functions, even though they are not possible at this time, and hackers use that desire to their advantage. Offers for bonus items from popular Facebook games like Farmville made up 15.4 percent of the third-party app attacks, and 11.2 percent of the attacks came from offers for bogus Facebook features such as a dislike button. Other third-party offenders included offers for free games, cell phones, and online movies.

    Another method for malware distribution on Facebook is the use of phony links that lead to supposed shocking videos. Links to shocking videos comprised 16 percent of malware attacks on the site, with some offering the opportunity to witness animal attacks, racy clips of women, and more.   

    While the statistics taken from Safego's users show that malware is alive and well on Facebook, they do not even take into account other parts of the site, such as private messages. The statistics only cover malware found posted on news feeds. If the amount of malware that exists in private messages is counted, it probably paints an even worse picture concerning the existence of threats within the social network.

    For more on this topic, visit http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-20023626-36.html?tag=topTechContentWrap;editorPicks


    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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