Communication on social networks has become an indispensable part of modern life online, with the most popular sites already boasting tens of millions of regular visitors – but many users don’t trust these sites with their information.
According to a survey by Harris Interactive in February-March 2012, 56% of users from the US, Europe and Russia regularly visit social networks. The results of the survey of almost 9 000 users from seven countries show social networks are second only to e-mail as a means for keeping in touch.
Amid all the fun, though, there can be a sinister side to social networks, with 27% of users reporting that they had received suspicious links and attachments which were sent in messages on social networks or via e-mail, according to Kaspersky Labs.
In general, most users are aware of the threats which social networks may present – 55% of respondents confirm they are familiar with the issue. Almost the same number of users (56%) do not post important personal data such as their phone number or home address on their social network pages.
In addition, 63% of respondents will not add people they don’t know personally to their friend list, while 68% try not to follow links received from people they have never heard of.
However, even though these measures are reasonably effective, they do not ensure protection against infection and data loss – it’s not unusual for cybercriminals to gain access to a user’s account and distribute malware-infested links to all his/her friends.
It should also be taken into account that 47% of users regularly communicate in social networks using their smartphone and 46% use their tablet for this purpose. Low protection levels on these devices and the use of unsafe Internet connections (every second smartphone or tablet user accesses the Internet via public WiFi networks) can easily lead not only to social network account information being stolen but also to more serious damage.
Although smartphones and tablets are growing more popular, computers still remain the most popular devices to access social networks – according to the survey by Harris Interactive, they are preferred by 61% users. This means any antivirus software on these computers should be able to protect against malicious objects in social networks. Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 offers precisely this kind of protection and is able to block malicious and phishing links circulating on social networks.