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How can you stay safe on social networks? An interview with Kaspersky Labs

Love them or hate them, social networks are incredibly popular ways of staying in touch with your friends and co-workers, but are they secure? According to experts at Kaspersky labs, it could be the users that make them easy targets for cyber crime.


All three sites have one thing in common. “We’re now in the era of user-generated content” which, in Jacoby’s own opinion, is “one of the biggest problems that we have today, because who is responsible for user-generated content? Is it you, the user, for obtaining that information, or is it the vendor (website owner) handling the platform?”

“If you ask the users, most would say it’s the responsibility of the social media networks that should be responsible, but if you ask the vendor, they can only say they can protect what they control. They only control servers and web applications.”

“We know about the technical vulnerabilities. We have prevention mechanisms for them, but how do you secure a company against a weak mind-set?” Given the current state of anti-virus software, it turns out that the most dangerous weapon is actually ourselves.

So what can you do to defend yourself against online attackers? The first and most obvious line of defence is to avoid using unencrypted wireless networks to get online. With no way of knowing who else could be sniffing for information packets on an unsecured network, you could be sending out passwords and personal details without realizing.

Kaspersky security suite 2012

Even if your wireless network is secured, you still can’t rest easy, as even the most complex account passwords won’t completely protect you from a determined hacker. By repurposing the processing power of a modern graphics card, cyber criminals can crack a password in no time at all using certain software, to the extent that no matter how long or complex your password is, it can still be broken. Kaspersky’s latest software suite can create encrypted passwords for individual sites, but even these aren’t infallible as once someone gains the master password, they will have access to all your website logins.

A better way to stay secure is to make sure you don’t fill your friends lists with people you don’t know very well; this is easier said than done on Twitter, but for social networks such as LinkedIn that have so much of your personal information saved, it makes sense to be wary over who has access to it. By keeping your details away from the public domain and only sharing it with friends or colleagues, there’s a much smaller chance of cyber criminals targeting you.

It’s important to be aware of how easy it is to compromise ourselves, and not to put our complete faith in security software to protect us, or the websites we use to keep our data safe. Simple things such as sticking to secure wireless networks, making sure you have unique passwords, and keeping some of your personal details secret can go a long way to keeping your identity safe on the internet.

We’ll be at Kaspersky’s security symposium for the next few days, where hopefully we’ll get a few more insights into what dangers to look out for when surfing the net.

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