Nielsen State of Social Media report highlights dangers of social engineering

Social media continues to grow in popularity both in Australia and around the world, in news which may be of interest to any organisation concerned about privacy security and ongoing vulnerability management.

According to the latest Social Media Report released by Nielsen and NM Incite, the average consumer using a personal computer spends around 20 per cent of their total internet time on a social media site such as Twitter or Facebook.

That number spikes even further when mobile platforms are used to access the internet, where an estimated 30 per cent of internet usage time is devoted to social media.

Furthermore, the total amount of time American consumers spent on social media websites in July of 2012 grew an estimated 37 per cent year-on-year to reach more than 120 billion minutes.

Unsurprisingly Facebook is still the king of social media platforms, with more visitors across PCs, mobile applications and mobile web browsers than any other website of this nature.

That is in the face of increasing competition as well, with Nielsen reporting that a number of new social media platforms emerged in 2012.

Most prominent of these was Pinterest, which registered an increase in unique PC visitors of more than 1,000 per cent.

Of note however is the fact that while the proliferation of social media may be allowing innovative organisations to reach a larger and more varied consumer base than ever before, it is also creating new risks to information security and digital privacy.

One of the biggest threats facing modern businesses is that of social engineering, which involves malicious cyber criminals manipulating people into giving away confidential information which could be used to exploit secure systems or gain access to further private data.

As the amount of time people spend on social media grows, often so too does the amount of information they share. This should be of concern to any organisation which is aware of the dangers of cybercrime.

Staff members who publicly share confidential personal information or information related to their employer are unintentionally putting themselves and their organisation at risk of becoming a victim of social engineering.

For this reason and many others, it is a good idea for businesses to regularly undergo comprehensive Red Cell ethical hacking evaluations which can determine where cyber criminals could potentially gain access to a secure server.

Ethical hacking teams are thoroughly trained in utilising the most innovative, modern and outside-the-box cybercrime techniques – including social engineering – and thus provide an ideal source of information when it comes to determining where potential exploits might exist in your system.

The full Nielsen and NM Incite 2012 Social Media Report, entitled Social Media Comes of Age, can be viewed here.

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