Facebook security more important as e-mail spam levels drop

Spammers are moving on from mass e-mail blasts to targeted attacks using social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, Cisco security executive Tom Gillis said Monday.

"2010 was the first year spam volumes went down," Gillis said during an onstage interview at DEMO Spring 2011. "Does that mean spam is less of a problem? No."

Spammers have found it can be more effective to use Facebook and other social networks to launch attacks targeted at specific companies or people, said Gillis, vice president and general manager of Cisco's security technology business unit and formerly an executive at IronPort Systems before it was purchased by Cisco.

IN DEPTH: The complicated new face of personal computing

Cisco recently tracked attacks launched via LinkedIn in which fake profiles were used to send connection requests that appear legitimate yet are used to install malware on a machine. These attacks can be launched against specific companies in an attempt to steal financial information.

With e-mail spam, it's not uncommon for 2 billion messages to be sent in a single attack, Gillis said. But spammers, in some cases, are now abandoning those types of attacks for the targeted ones using social networks that Gillis described. On Facebook, worms such as Koobface demonstrate this threat.

Websense defends Facebook

The security vendor Websense has developed a new tool called Defensio for Facebook specifically to help individuals and corporations protect their Facebook pages. The product was launched Monday on stage at DEMO.

"During this six-minute demo, more than 450,000 posts of malicious content, spam, spyware, phishing and fraud will be posted onto Facebook," said Websense CTO Dan Hubbard.

Defensio for Facebook works much like an antivirus program, except that it is completely Web-based and instead of scanning an operating system and applications, it just scans Facebook content, including wall posts, videos, photos, comments and URLs.

"This is a really easy way to see if your page is infected by something," Hubbard said.

In addition to running one-time scans, it can provide ongoing protection at levels decided by the user. For example, Defensio can block profanity in comments or malicious links. Defensio can either delete malicious content automatically or alert the page owner, depending on user-defined settings. While individuals can use Websense, it seems more likely to benefit corporations trying to promote and protect their brands across multiple Facebook pages.

Separately, Cisco's Gillis said that security must continue to adapt to both social networks and the proliferation of mobile devices. Within five years, mobile devices could be the primary tool used to access enterprise information, he said.

Personal and business data is being mingled, and virtualization is freeing applications from the binds of the hardware running underneath, he said.

Eventually, "security will be decoupled from the physical infrastructure," he said. Better models of authentication will be crucial. "The reason we have these problems is we don't know you are who you're saying you are," Gillis said.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags LinkedInFacebookIronPort Systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?