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Social networks create opportunities for criminals

Social networking sites have gifted conmen with a raft of new criminal opportunities, according to security experts.

The problem is that end-users seem to suspend all rational judgement when dealing with people online, according to Mark Zielinski, security engineer with Arbor Networks' security engineering and response team.

"[Users'] exploits in social networking are an increasing concern - enterprise IT staffs are suddenly getting slammed with yet another set of security problems," said Zielinski.

Social networks offer the worst possible scenario for security experts. "Getting to people has always been a more effective method of stealing from a company than hacking. With social networks, the criminals are getting the best of both worlds," he said.

A particular problem is that social networking applications have somehow mutated from being a consumer network into enterprise tools, warned Ryan Olson, US-based analyst for VeriSign's iDefense malicious code operations.

"Thousands of new applications are being developed for users. While they enrich functionality, they present a perfect channel for distributing malware. The potential for disaster is all there," he said.

John Safa, chief technology officer at data security company DriveSentry, constantly monitors the activities of fraudsters and hackers in chatrooms and forums. He warned "[a social networking site] is like a nightclub where you can meet strangers you believe want to be your friends. Before you know it you have handed them the keys to your car and your wallet."

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