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Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Social networking sites a bonanza for preying spammers


Web sites for career networking are proving a virtual bonanza for cybercriminals. As the users of corresponding social network platforms often reveal many personal details, the pages provide a rich source for spammers to gather data, says Katrin Alberts from the German Federal Agency for Security in Information Technology (BSI) in Berlin.

The information included there is increasingly being used for personalized phishing attacks.

Career networking sites also offer criminals the chance to address employees in an inconspicuous way which, performed adeptly, can cause them to reveal valuable corporate information.


“For that reason we advise that social network users reveal as little personal data in their profiles as possible,” Alberts said.

Providing general contact data without responsibilities or functions is generally sufficient for networking purposes.

Any attempts to establish contact via e-mail should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

“Cybercriminals try in this way to gain access to additional contacts and data,” Alberts said.

They do so by faking e-mail sender addresses and by cleverly using personal information to gain the trust of potential victims.

Marit Hansen, deputy officer for privacy protection for the state of Schleswig-Holstein, advises caution even for social networking pages oriented toward private lives: Young people in particular seem inclined to be very loose with their personal information.


This can come back to haunt them when it comes time to find a job: Imagine a human resources director running their name through Google and finding photos of the applicant drunk or engaging in otherwise risky behavior. It’s not at all unusual for young people to post such images of themselves online, Hansen says.

Separately, a survey by Forsa showed that 4 million Germans have fallen victim to computer crime. They account for 7 percent of all users over 14 years, said BITKOM, the Federal Association of the Information Industry, Telecommunications and New Media.

Around 1 percent of those questioned said they had suffered financial losses from online banking or online auctions.

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