Facebook, the world’s most popular social networking site, has ranked fourth in the top 10 most popular phishing targets on the web, overtaking even Google, the IRS and RapidShare, leading secure content management solutions developer Kaspersky Lab said in its latest report.
Company experts Darya Gudkova, Elena Bondarenko and Maria Namestnikova who compiled Kaspersky Lab’s 2010 first quarter Spam Evolution Report said it was the first time that phishing attacks on a social networking site has increased extensively.
“Facebook popped up unexpectedly in fourth place. This was the first time since we started monitoring that attacks on a social networking site have been so prolific,” the authors said in the report.
Currently, Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites with more than 400 million users globally. Having stolen users’ accounts, the fraudsters can then use them to distribute spam, sending bulk emails to the account owners and their friends in the network. This method of distributing spam allows huge audiences to be reached.
Additionally, it lets the fraudsters take advantage of the social networking site’s additional options, like being able to send different requests, links to photos and invitations, all with the advertisement attached, both within the network and to users’ inboxes. Also, while registering accounts, users enter their data (for example, an email address) which the spammers can add to their databases.
Facebook accounted 5.7% of the phishing pie. It is more targeted than top search engine Google, which ranked fifth with 3.1% attacks followed by the United States’ revenue service IRS with 2.2% and one of the world’s largest file-hosting sites, RapidShare with 1.8%.
More than half of the phishing pie was taken by e-commerce payment site PayPal with 52.2% followed by online auction and shopping site eBay with 13.3% and banking institution HSBC with 7.8%.
Meanwhile, the report said that during the first quarter of the year the percentage of phishing emails averaged 0.57% of the total volume of spam email traffic, which averaged at 85.2%.
The report also stated that Asia remained the leading source of spam among continents with 31.7% and followed closely by Europe 30.6% of spam being distributed from its territory.
By country, the United States of America maintained the lead with 16% followed as followed by India 7% and Russia 6%.
The full text of the report for Q1 is available at http://www.securelist.com/en.