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Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/12/2013
02:39 PM
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Report: Social Media Gets Abused

New data culled from real-world branded social media accounts shows cybercriminals' obsession with going social

Social media postings between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. mostly come from rogue accounts, and social spam is growing 100 percent faster than legitimate posts and comments, according to new data gleaned from corporate social media content.

And in case you think Facebook and Twitter get hit with the most malicious content, think again: YouTube has five times more bad content than those two social networks, Google+, and other social networks, according to new data gathered by Nexgate, a cloud provider of brand protection and compliance for enterprise social media accounts.

The data was culled from Nexgate's scan of more than 100 million pieces of social media content, mostly from what it monitors for its global financial services, pharmaceutical, Internet security, manufacturing, media, and retailer customers. The data came from some 10,000 branded social media accounts supporting 25 million users.

About 12 percent of all questionable social media content includes malware, spam, and criminal activity, and 80 percent of social media postings in the wee hours of 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. are from rogue accounts.

"Roughly 90 percent of the bad stuff on branded social media accounts is content that violates acceptable use policy -- things like adult content, hate speech, pornography, as well as controversial topics like politics and religion," says Harold Nguyen, lead data scientist at Nexgate.

Nexgate also found a nearly 400 percent increase in the volume of security and compliance risks in brands' social media accounts. "This increase isn’t just from everyday consumers. Increasingly, it’s from automated bots and fake accounts, which the bad guys have created as an efficient source for getting revenue from unprotected organizations and their unsuspecting consumers," he says.

Corporate brands have an average of six apps connected to their social media accounts, and they have an average of more than 300 social media accounts.

Spam is a big problem in social media: About 5 percent of social apps are spam-related, according to Nexgate's data, and one in 200 social media messages contain spam. During the period of January through July 2013, social media spam jumped by a whopping 355 percent, the data shows.

Another fun fact: Spammers typically send spam to a minimum of 23 different social media accounts.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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