2010's Top Security Threats: Facebook, Twitter, and iPhone Apps

2010 will see increasing security threats to users of social networking and media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, a security vendor predicted.

"In 2009 we saw increased attacks on websites, exploit cocktails thrown at unsuspecting users, infrastructure failure via natural and unnatural causes, and 'friendly fire' become a larger problem than ever."

"With Facebook reaching more than 350 million users, we expect that 2010 will take these trends to new heights," security vendor McAfee said in its "2010 Threat Predictions" report (PDF).

"Malware authors love following the social networking buzz and hot spots of activity; that will continue in 2010."

The report warns that as Google and other providers crack down on "search engine poisoning", Twitter and similar services will increase in appeal for such purposes.

Twitter has been a major driver in the use of abbreviated URL services, such as bit.ly and tinyurl.com.

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McAfee suggests that these services make it easier than ever to mask the URLs that users are asked to click.

"This trick will play a more predominant role in 2010; it's the perfect avenue to direct users to websites that they would normally be wary about visiting," states the report written by Dmitri Alperovitch, Toralv Dirro, Paula Greve, Rahul Kashyap, David Marcus, Sam Masiello, Franois Paget, and Craig Schmugar of McAfee Labs.

"As users expectations of their Web 2.0 services evolve, we expect to see many rogue services set up with the hidden purpose of capturing credentials and data."

The phenomenal success of Apple's iPhone is driven in large part by the diversity of applications available to it.

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The audience is there: Facebook boasts more than 350,000 active applications and Apple's App Store recently reached the 100,000 mark.

"Users blindly distribute applications; with the widespread availability of stolen credentials it could become very easy to launch and share these rogue apps across a wide population."

"Wherever and whenever a trusted mainstream website distributes or promotes third-party content, attackers seek to abuse the trust relationship established between the site and their users."

"Users often let down their guard when clicking hyperlinks sent from their friends, or when installing applications offered by well-known sites," warn the report writers.

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