SOURCE: Cloudmark

September 09, 2008 08:00 ET

Cloudmark Outlines Back-to-School Best Practices for Safe Social Networking

New School Year Sees Increasing Attacks on Social Networking and Peer-to-Peer Sites, Students at Risk

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - September 9, 2008) - Cloudmark®, Inc., the global leader in carrier-grade messaging security, today outlined tips and best practices for safe social networking critical for students and parents during the 2008 back-to-school season.

Over the last few years, there has been a precipitous rise in the number of social network users, many of whom are elementary, junior high or college age. A nationwide poll conducted in June on Cloudmark's behalf by Harris Interactive® revealed that, in the previous twelve months, more than four in five social networking site users (83 percent) received unwanted (or spam) "friend" invitations, messages or postings on their social or professional network account. Similar to attacks found in e-mail, social networking spam generally targets users with unsolicited product messages or attempts to redirect them to a phishing site or one hosting malware.

The large user base makes social networks a popular target for online criminals -- Facebook reports 100 million active users, while Friendster cites more than 75 million users worldwide. To broaden their membership base, many social networks use a viral approach to recruit new members and provide multiple ways for members to interact with one another, including e-mail, mobile text messages, chats, blog/profile postings and message broadcasting. Unfortunately, the very qualities that make social networks successful -- the wide variety of communication channels, the openness of the networks and the size of the audience -- are also powerful lures for spammers and hackers.

With the start of a new school year and the increasing use of social networks and peer-to-peer networks, students are more vulnerable than ever to this new crop of attacks. In response to growing threats and the need to practice safe social networking, Cloudmark offers students and their parents the following tips:

--  Don't use the same password on multiple social networks, especially
    between your primary e-mail service and your Web accounts;
--  Don't use a computer that you can't trust to be clean of viruses;
--  Run up-to-date anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spam tools;
--  Be wary of "friending" people you don't know and never reciprocate
    friend requests from complete strangers -- these requests may be from
    spammers, include links to viruses or have other malicious content or
    intentions;
--  Pay attention to the information that you expose when adding
    applications to your profile and the actions you enable that application to
    perform. Whenever possible, only install applications from companies that
    you trust and use privacy settings to limit the information you expose;
--  Don't share personal information, such as a cell phone number, on your
    social networking page for the world to see -- these numbers are difficult
    to change compared to IM accounts and e-mail addresses in case something
    goes wrong;
--  Always remember, the Internet is permanent -- do not post content that
    you may be embarrassed about in the future.
    

"As spammers, hackers and other online criminals broaden their scope to social networks, students must be especially vigilant and employ safe practices while engaging in online communities," said Jaime de Guerre, CTO of Cloudmark. "Understanding the risks and knowing how to protect yourself is critical to avoiding scams and other threats."

About Cloudmark

Cloudmark, Inc. is a global leader in carrier-grade messaging security, delivering the most accurate, high-performance and comprehensive real-time spam, virus and phishing protection for fixed, mobile and social networks. Cloudmark patented solutions combine Advanced Message Fingerprinting technology based on innovative, highly efficient algorithms and a Global Threat Network consisting of trusted reporters in every country across the globe to provide security intelligence and filtering at all points of the messaging infrastructure. Cloudmark solutions protect more than 700 million mailboxes for the world's largest service provider networks, including over 75 percent of major ISPs in the United States and Japan. Cloudmark's customers include Swisscom, EarthLink, Comcast, Tele2, Thus, NTT OCN and XS4ALL (KPN) as well as leading hosting providers, Mailtrust, domainFACTORY, Intergenia and others. Cloudmark is a privately held company headquartered in San Francisco with offices in London, Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit http://www.cloudmark.com.

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