Social media emerges as fertile ground for cyber criminals

Internet Security Threat Report by Symantec ranks India as second in social media attacks

| April 23, 2015



As net neutrality debate rages on, India has become second among nations targeted by cyber criminals through social media in 2014. The US remains at the top of vulnerable list.

According to 2015 Internet Security Threat Report by Symantec, a security solutions provider, “while email remains a significant attack vector for cybercriminals, they continue to experiment with new methods across mobile devices and social networks to reach more people with less effort.”

See full report here


India had the second highest number of social media scams globally and the highest in the Asia Pacific region. Over 80 per cent of these scams were shared manually as attackers took advantage of people’s willingness to trust content shared by friends.


Why social media?


The report says “criminals will go wherever there are people to be scammed. There are large numbers of people using well-established social media platforms, and, as such, they play host to plenty of scams. The rise in popularity of messaging and dating apps means scammers have taken note and taken advantage, and a variety of scams are being seen on these platforms.”

“The big shift in social media scams this year has been the uptick in manual sharing scams. This is where people voluntarily and unwittingly share enticing videos, stories, pictures, and offers that actually include links to malicious or affiliate sites.”


URL shortening game


Cyber criminals are also cashing on people’s fetish for sharing reading material with short URLs. “URL shortening services are popular among spammers and social networking users alike because they provide a shortened link. For spammers, they have an added benefit: they obfuscate the domain name of the spam website behind them. Additionally, by appending ‘+’ to the end of a Bitlink, spammers and their affiliates now have easy access to click-through statistics and other demographics. Short URLs are frequently seen not only in email spam but also in SMS spam and some of the newer forms of spam spread through social networks,” the report says.


What is the solution?


Symantec report says “end users should be mindful when using any social network, keeping an eye out for free offers for gadgets, gift cards, and airline tickets or for invitations from attractive women to join adult dating and webcam sites. If you are asked to fill out a survey or sign up for a service using a credit card, you are most likely being scammed. As the old adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

“People need to be wary of links posted by friends that seem unusually sensational and, rather than clicking on the link, should go directly to a trusted news source and search for the story there.”

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