Analyst: Cyber Attacks On Social Networking Sites Growing at Alarming Rate

Survey finds that Facebook posed the biggest risk to security; iPad will become a threat in the coming year.

Cyber attacks on Facebook and other social networking sites are growing at an alarming rate, according to a report on security threats released Wednesday by IT security firm Sophos.

According to a Sophos 2010 survey that is included in the report, 40% of social networking users quizzed had been sent malware such as worms via social networking sites, a 90% increase since April 2009; 67% said they had been spammed via social networking sites; and 43% had been on the receiving end of phishing attacks, more than double the figure since April 2009.

A total of 82% of respondents felt that Facebook -- which by mid-2010 recorded a half-billion active users -- posed the biggest risk to security.

The report suggests that a major problem for Facebook is its app system and that the social network could combat the trouble by operating more like the Apple App Store with a walled garden approach in contrast to allowing more open access.

"Rogue applications, clickjacking, survey scams -- all unheard of just a couple of years ago -- are now popping up on a daily basis on social networks such as Facebook," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Why aren't Facebook and other social networks doing more to prevent spam and scams in the first place? People need to be very careful they don't end up being conned for their personal details or get tricked into clicking on links that could earn money for cybercriminals or infect innocent computers."

Sophos suggests that more cyber criminals will target iPad users in the coming year.