Social Networking Security Threats

What You Can Do About Them

A recent discussion on one of the many mailing lists I’m on brought to the fore an all to common and often misunderstood threat in social networking – malware.  Malware is the generic over arching term that describes programs that do things we wouldn’t otherwise want such as viruses, spyware, trojans, root kits, etc.  Malware is in a constant state of evolution driven by a profit motive and its focus on social networking has been a consistent one.  Social networking sites have been a common way to deliver malware and “toolkits” have been available to help even the most novice of “hackers’ create havoc on the Internet.  Trojan.Generic.3576478 (AKA Facebook Hackers Kit) is a recent example in a long slew of annoying & pernicious malware delivered via social networking.  My general recommendations for the average user are:

  • Patch your machine and all associated applications (i.e. 3rd party applications).
  • Get an anti-malware suite from any of the major vendors like Trendmicro, BidDefender, Kaspersky, Symantec, etc.
  • Switch to the Firefox browser and read my article in CSO Magazine on making it even more secure.  Specifically NoScript.
  • Shut off all email notification from any of the social networking sites of network invites, updates, etc.  In this way you know that any email you receive from them is fake.  Remember when you login to these sites you will still see those nifty notices of friend invites or emails.

None of these are a panacea but can help reduce your risks to some degree.

Oh, and if your a security geek like me you may enjoy the Social Media Security Podcast.

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