So­cial Net­work­ing and Cy­ber Threats

Cy­ber crime has shifted from sim­ple scams in­clud­ing phish­ing, spoof­ing, worms and viruses to more so­phis­ti­cated at­tacks shut­ting down net­work servers and cloud-based sys­tems af­fect­ing com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als. So­cial net­work­ing sites are fer­tile grounds

SP's LandForces - - Front Page - LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) P.C. KA­TOCH

THE BIG­GEST IN­FOR­MA­TION SE­CU­RITY threats to­day is at­tacks on per­va­sive de­vices, so­cial net­work­ing and phys­i­cal sys­tems re­lated to in­for­ma­tion ex­change with ac­cred­ited cy­ber se­cu­rity is­sues. More than 150 so­cial me­dia sites are in vogue to­day. Such threats have be­come more acute due to so­phis­ti­ca­tion of bot­nets and their com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion for com­mit­ting cy­ber crimes to gain fis­cal and other ad­van­tage. Glob­ally, 95 per cent of spam is be­ing gen­er­ated by bot­nets and mil­lions of com­put­ers are at­tacked via so­cial net­work­ing sites where cy­ber de­fence is weak. Mo­bile phone users are es­ti­mated to be three times in num­ber to daily In­ter­net users num­ber­ing over 1.5 bil­lion. Bulks of both these cat­e­gories are hooked to so­cial net­work­ing sites. You step out of the house and you find any num­ber of peo­ple tex­ting their smart phones on Face­book, tweet­ing on Twit­ter or us­ing other net­work­ing sites. Most smart­phones have in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive third party ap­pli­ca­tions. While the num­ber of smart­phone users may triple by the end of this decade, they make an at­trac­tive tar­get for cy­ber crim­i­nals. It is eas­ier for them to launch at­tacks, sab­o­tage and take con­trol of your crit­i­cal data, com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vices and com­put­ers. With ex­ten­sive im­ple­men­ta­tion of de­vices like iPhones and iPads, new mal­ware at­tacks are likely to af­fect smart phones, VoIP/Mac, so­cial me­dia and even Adobe’s Ac­ro­bat Reader.

Dan­gers of So­cial Net­work­ing

So­cial net­work­ing sites pro­vide or­gan­i­sa­tions with a mech­a­nism for mar­ket­ing on­line but they can also lead to se­ri­ous con­se­quences. Cy­ber crim­i­nals ex­ploit the in­creased cor­po­rate use of cloud com­put­ing, so­cial net­work­ing, and use of Macs and smart­phones for re­mote ac­cess. Cy­ber crime has shifted from sim­ple scams in­clud­ing phish­ing, spoof­ing, worms and viruses to more so­phis­ti­cated at­tacks shut­ting down net­work servers and cloud-based sys­tems af­fect­ing com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als. So­cial net­work­ing sites are fer­tile grounds for breed­ing cy­ber crime. With the in­cred­i­ble growth of their pop­u­lar­ity also has come equally large amount of mal­ware. Short­ened URLs are the main tech­nique used in at­tack­ing so­cial net­work­ing sites and it is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to iden­tify the source of such at­tack as mil­lions of peo­ple are logged onto the same web­site. Short­ened URLs are used to lever­age news feed ca­pa­bil­i­ties of pop­u­lar so­cial net­work­ing sites. The vic­tims are eas­ily tricked into in­ject­ing mal­ware and phish­ing. Ab­bre­vi­ated URLs are the at­tack method to in­no­cently share link to an e-mail or web­page. Mass dis­trib­uted at­tacks are achieved by log­ging onto a com­pro­mised ac­count on the so­cial net­work­ing site by post­ing the short URL linked to a ma­li­cious web­site. Thou­sands of un­sus­pect­ing vic­tims get in­fected in a mat­ter of min­utes as the so­cial net­work­ing site au­to­mat­i­cally dis­trib­utes this link to the vic­tims’ friends in a mul­ti­ply­ing spi­ral. All that the at­tacker has to do is to log on to a com­pro­mised so­cial net­work­ing ac­count and post a short­ened link to a ma­li­cious web­site in the sta­tus area of the in­tended vic­tim. Though short­ened URLs are not the only method to ef­fect ma­li­cious links in news feeds, they def­i­nitely are the pri­mary method of at­tack and re­spon­si­ble for bulk suc­cesses.

Re­cent times have seen dra­matic in­creases in fre­quency and so­phis­ti­ca­tion of tar­geted at­tacks on en­ter­prises. Most so­cial net­work­ing sites are be­ing used as at­tack dis­tri­bu­tion plat­forms. Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of Java

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