SAN MATEO, Calif. -- ScanSafe, the global leader in managed Web security, has released its latest Global Threat Report on Web filtering, spyware and viruses. According to an analysis of more than five billion Web requests in July, ScanSafe found that on average, up to one in 600 profile pages on social-networking sites hosted some form of malware. The company also reported that the use of social-networking sites, often assumed to be popular only with teens, accounted for approximately 1 percent of all Web use in the workplace.
"Social-networking sites have been newsworthy because of the concern over our children's safety, but beyond unsafe contact with harmful adults, these sites are an emerging and potentially ripe threat vector that can expose children to harmful software," said Eldar Tuvey, CEO and co-founder, ScanSafe. "Users are frequently subject to unwanted spyware and adware that can compromise their PCs, track online behavior and degrade PC performance."
The majority of malware identified by ScanSafe was spyware and adware, and ranged from more benign programs that track usage to difficult-to-remove spyware that can affect a user's Web experience, for example, by redirecting the browser.
Social-networking sites like Facebook, which typically use a university or college email address to verify a user's identity and LinkedIn, a site used for business networking, tended to be more secure than more open social-networking sites. For example, ScanSafe found no instances of malware on LinkedIn.
The research also revealed the presence of referrals to adult-themed personals sites, such as "adultfriendfinder.com," on social-network sites popular with teens.
"The presence of adult-oriented adware is disturbing, not only because much of it is inappropriate content for minors but because underage users may not be in a position to consent to installing adware or understand the end-user license agreement," Tuvey said.