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Cyber thieves target social sites

50°
343w ago - It is not just the average net user who is a fan of social network sites, so are hi-tech criminals.

So say security professionals predicting what net criminals will turn to in 2008 to catch people out.

The quasi-intimate nature of the sites makes people share information readily leaving them open to all kinds of other attacks, warn security firms.

Detailed information gathered via the sites will also help tune spam runs or make phishing e-mail more convincing.

Friendly faces

There was no doubt that 2007 was the year that sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Orkut rose to prominence as millions of people signed up to use them and started posting information about themselves and what they were up to.

But in 2008 these sites will become an attack vector for the hi-tech gangs who are now behind the vast majority of cyber crime.

Mary Landesman, senior security researcher at ScanSafe, said social sites would prove popular for two reasons.

"The technologies that play there and the third party add-ons make it an environment that is susceptible to compromise," said Ms Landesman.

Already at the end of 2007 Brazilian users of Google's Orkut were subject to an attack by a worm that tried to steal bank account details. The malicious...
 

Hi-tech tools divide social sites

50°
346w ago - Social network sites are moving to make it much easier for software developers to write add-ons for the hugely popular web destinations.

Bebo, Facebook, Meebo and Friendster have unveiled plans to help them become more than places to keep in touch.

The add-ons will allow users to add extras, such as video and music clips, to the personal profiles they maintain.

The alliances behind the technologies also reveal the fierce competition between social sites for users.

Tough choices

In one of the broader announcements Bebo unveiled its Open Application platform which will produce a set of common interfaces that developers can use to create programs and applications that will work with the social network site.

At the launch Bebo unveiled partnerships with more than 40 developers, including NBC Universal, Flixster and Gap. A sample application produced using the tools allows Beboers to create an interactive avatar that models Gap clothes.

Significantly, Bebo's interface tools will work with Facebook's already announced development system. This will make it possible for the many developers who have written applications for Facebook to use their code almost unchanged for the Bebo network.

Despite the tie-up on tools, Bebo and Facebook will...
 

Facebook founder apology over ads

50°
347w ago - The founder of social networking site Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has apologised to users for the way it launched a social advertising system.

Called Beacon, the system tracks web shopping on partner sites outside Facebook and then sells adverts to the social network based on purchases.

After complaints the site was invading privacy, Facebook changed Beacon from an opt-out system to opt in.

Mr Zuckerberg has said users can now switch off Beacon completely.

Meanwhile, the UK's National Consumer Council (NCC) has warned that children need to be better protected from "opaque commercial practices" on some of the most popular websites.

The council has said children are being exposed to advertising on websites that they would not see around their favourite TV programmes because of strict regulation.

A quarter of adverts on children's best-loved sites are aimed at adults - such as gambling and dating services, the NCC found.

"Parents should be aware that the internet is highly commercial. Every hour that a child spends in front of the computer is like letting them run loose in a shopping centre," said Ed Mayo, chief executive of the NCC.

Facebook is one of the most popular social networks in the world, and has more than 50 million...
 

Protests force Facebook to change

50°
348w ago - Facebook members have forced the social networking site to change the way a controversial ad system worked.

More than 50,000 Facebook users signed a petition calling on the company to alter or abandon its Beacon advertising technology.

When Facebook users shopped online, Beacon told friends and businesses what they looked at or bought.

Many considered the data sharing to be an intrusion that exposed them to more scrutiny than was comfortable.

Privacy please

In response to the demands, Facebook's 55 million members will have more control over whether data about what they do online is used for Beacon.

Before the changes, Beacon was an "opt out" system and many complained that they missed the chance to avoid using it when it was introduced in early November.

Now Beacon will be an "opt in" system that only tracks data if explicit permission is granted to Facebook to do so.

More than 40 websites, including Fandango.com, Overstock.com and Blockbuster, signed up to use Beacon software on their webpages and report what Facebook users did when they visited.

Activist site MoveOn was at the forefront of protests against Beacon and set up the petition to gather signatures on 20 November.

"It also says a lot about...
 

Young warned over social websites

50°
349w ago - Millions of young people could damage their future careers with the details about themselves they post on social networking websites, a watchdog warns.

The Information Commissioner's Office found more than half of those asked made most of their information public.

Some 71% of 2,000 14 to 21-year-olds said they would not want colleges or employers to do a web search on them before they had removed some material.

The commission said the young needed to be aware of their electronic footprint.

Vetting tool

The ICO also said young people could be putting themselves at risk of identity fraud because of the material they post on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.

The data regulator's survey found that two thirds of those questioned accepted as friends on such websites people they did not even know.

Some 60% posted their date of birth, a quarter put their job title and almost one in 10 gave their home address.

ICO deputy commissioner David Smith said: "Many young people are posting content online without thinking about the electronic footprint they leave behind.

"The cost to a person's future can be very high if something undesirable is found by the increasing number of education institutions and employers using...
 
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