Fraudsters go all out for social networkers

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Identity thieves are increasingly focusing on social networking sites to gather information on targets, and Symantec's latest threat report has advised users to lie about some of their details.

Guy Bunker, chief scientist at Symantec, told www.vnunet.com that social networking sites are being used in a number of ways to spread malware.

Firstly, because users tend to trust other users, the sites are being used to send people to other sites that have malware installed. Secondly, such sites are being used to harvest information that could be used for identity theft.

"There has always been grooming of children on social networking sites, but people are now moving into the theft and phishing side of things," said Bunker.

"People tend to trust other users on these sites and they have a lot of personal information on them.

"Best practice is to lie about your date of birth because there is no real reason to have it up there and it could be a useful way of misleading the identity thieves."

The US is still leading the world in computer crime, according to the Symantec report, hosting the most underground servers used for trading hacking tools and stolen information.

The country also hosts the most spamming servers, and servers in the country are the target of nearly two thirds of worldwide denial of service attacks.

However, China seems to be forming the backstay of botnets used in attacks. The country hosted more infected PCs than any other, and Beijing accounted for seven per cent of the world's botnet-controlled PCs.

"This is a reflection of the maturity of the Chinese market," said Bunker. " There are a lot of people going online in China but very few are using security software and this is reflected in the figures."
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