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Second Annual Survey Shows 37 Percent More Users Block Strangers From Viewing Their Profiles Through A Google Search, Yet 81 Percent Allow Anyone on Their Network to See Their Recent Activity
Boulder, CO., March 30, 2010 –Â As the amount of activity on social networks continues to grow, more members are taking steps to protect their privacy but opportunities abound for security risks, according to new research commissioned by Webroot, a leading provider of Internet security software for the consumer, enterprise and SMB markets.
Webrootâ€™s second annual study surveyed more than 1,100 members of Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter and other popular social networks. The survey showed an increasing awareness among social network users of how to keep personal information private. At the same time, it revealed how social network users still put their identities and sensitive information at risk. Among the findings:
Social networks are a growing Web destination â€“ and a growing target for cybercriminals
â€œA perfect storm is developing between the number of people flocking to social networks and the new, increasingly sophisticated malware attacks cybercriminals are launching to prey on the personal data theyâ€™re sharing,â€ said Jeff Horne, director of Threat Research at Webroot. â€œFor example, our team has noted over 100 different variations of Koobface, a worm known to trick people into clicking links they shouldnâ€™t in order to infect their PCâ€™s and often convince them to provide credit card numbers to buy phony antivirus products, among other fraudulent activities.â€
In addition, Webroot has seen a rise in spam on social networks, which commonly contains links to malicious Web site links: The Webroot survey showed a 23 percent increase in spam received on social networks since last year.
Summary of Key Findings
Younger users (ages 18-29) are the least likely to take steps to safeguard their information.
Privacy settings continue to be underutilized.
But modest gains are being made toward safeguarding personal information on social networks.
What Can Users Do?
To help consumers understand and protect themselves from these types of attacks, Webroot has provided the following tips as a guideline for safer social networking:
Make personal information privateâ€”Protect yourself by updating privacy settings on your profile to restrict or omit access to any personal data. Users of popular geo-location services that allow you to share where you are should be especially careful to not disclose your location to the wrong people.
Read between the linesâ€”Familiarize yourself with the social networksâ€™ privacy options to ensure youâ€™re taking advantage of any enhanced security features.
Be exclusiveâ€”Only accept friend requests, emails and site links from people you know and even then, be selective about what you open. Accepting items from sources you do not know could expose you to malicious malware.
Protect the passwordâ€”As a critical line of defense, it is more important than ever for members to choose their passwords wisely, and make them different from one site to the next. Incorporating numbers, letters and special characters like !, $, and * into your password makes it stronger. Webroot also recommends changing your password at regular intervals, and never use the same password at more than one site.
Suite Securityâ€” Protect your PC with an Internet security suite that includes antivirus, antispyware, and firewall technologies.
Always automate software updatesâ€”If youâ€™re already using antimalware software, be sure to install updates which include the latest malware definitions. Do the same with updates to your operating system, Internet browser and other key applications. However, watch out for fake software updates like emails that purport to be from Microsoft which require you click on a link to update Windows. Toggle the automatic updates setting within Windows.
Webroot offers several comprehensive Internet security solutions for consumers including WebrootÂ® AntiVirus with Spy SweeperÂ®, and Webroot Internet Security Essentials. For more information about these and other products, please visit http://www.webroot.com/En_US/consumer.html.
About the Research
1 Source: Facebook Statistics: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
Webroot Threat Blog: http://blog.webroot.com.
Follow Webroot on Twitter: http://twitter.com/webroot.
Â©2009 Webroot Software, Inc. All rights reserved. Webroot is a registered trademark of Webroot Software, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks are properties of their respective owners.
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