Hacking goes social

Written by Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | Updated: Sep 17 2012, 07:21am hrs
So you think you can never be a victim of cybercrime Its not true and one is very much prone to it if you are active on social media. Today cybercrime is not just about hacking emails, doing fraud online transactions and making money. It has now gone beyond this. As youngsters and professional executives are spending a lot of time doing networking on social networking websites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, the hackers too are following them there. From money-related frauds, cybercrime is extending to fake online profiles, fake job offers through professional networks and character assassination of individuals on friendship networks.

Today almost half of the Indian adults are on social networking websites. Facebook has revealed that its user base in the country has grown from 8 million in 2010 to 50 million now and most of the people access the site through mobile phones. While in other countries, users logged in to the website through desktop first and then switched to mobile devices.

Here is a look at the consequences: A recent survey by Norton, a Symantec company, says that one out of five social network users report that someone has hacked into their profile and pretended to be them.

Also, one out of ten social network users have fallen victims to a cybercrime on social networking platforms.

Effendy Ibrahim, director, Asia consumer business, Symantec says, Victims on social networking sites have gone up because internet users have gone up in India. It is more than 100 million internet users now and even people in smaller towns access the internet. Secondly, apps like location-based services on Facebook also increase the rate of crime; the hacker can access all the information of an individual through these apps. As a safety measure, he informs that his firm provides free security apps on Facebook which scans all the links that are posted on an individuals Facebook wall and removes other malicious things from the wall.

Analysts reckon that using such apps is important because 15% of social network users have fallen victim to a scam or fake link on social network platforms. And many of them are scared too as 83% of the users believe that cyber criminals are setting their sights on social networks.

Going further, Symantec has plans to provide a multi-device protection app to users. This is because today most of the users access their social networking accounts through mobile devices or tablets. Statistics reveal that two out of three mobile users access their social media accounts through the device. Amongst them, 44% of have received a text message from someone they did not know requesting that they click on an embedded link or dial an unknown number to retrieve a voice mail. However, the unfortunate part is that half of the mobile users do not use a security solution.

But what goes wrong that the users are victimised Awareness is clearly a factor. For instance, one out of five users do not log out after each session of their social networking activity. Facebook is becoming a great platform to share links and one out of seven users do not check links before sharing. Surprisingly, even if they have the option, one out of ten have no idea if their settings are public or private on the social network.

Ibrahim says that the digital world is getting quite dangerous and calls friends on social networking sites as frenemies. This is because half of the time one cannot even identify their friend online. About 37% people have accepted friend requests from individuals they do not know and 30% have received posts or messages that they suspect are not actually from friends.

The truth is that many Indians do not even come to know that a virus has hit their computer and thus they cannot take steps at the right time.

Let us hope that the modern online user who is active on social media secures his personal details.

CHANGING FACE OF CYBERCRIME

32% : Social network users have fallen victim to cybercrime on social networking platforms

83% : Believe cybercriminals are setting their sights on social networks

22% : Social network users report that someone has hacked into their profile and pretended to be them

15% : Social network users have fallen victim to a scam or fake link on social network platforms

7/10 : Adults use a mobile device to access the internet

44% : Mobile users received a text message from someone they didnt know requesting that they click on an embedded link or dial an unknown number to retrieve a voicemail