New York, Feb 2: Learning that computer users are spending a lot more time on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, hackers and cyber criminals specifically targeted these sites over the last year, a new study has found.
A survey by global IT security and data protection firm Sophos said that over the last 12 months there was a sizable increase in the number of attacks including identity theft, spam and malware infiltration on social networking sites.
The study established that about 57 per cent of users were spammed through social networking sites, which accounts for a rise of 70.6 per cent from last year.
36 per cent of the users also received malware through these sites, up by 69.8 per cent in comparision with the year ago period, it added.
“A dramatic rise in attacks last year tells us that social networks and their millions of users have to do more to protect themselves from organised cybercrime or risk falling prey to identity theft schemes, scams and malware attacks," said Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley.
When the respondents were questioned on which social networking sites posed greater threat 60 per cent respondents named Facebook, MySpace came second with 18 per cent, Twitter followed with 17 per cent and LinkedIn came in last with four per cent respondents naming it.
Surveying about 500 firms, the study found that a large 72 per cent of the employers believed that their employees' behaviour on the social networking sites put their businesses at risk.
The 'Social Security' survey, which is a part of Sophos" 2010 Security Threat Report, also said that the websites are only concentrating on gaining momentum in the market rather than providing security to the users.