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Social media, the gateway for malware

Kacy Zurkus | Aug. 30, 2016
Why the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) doesn't give an accurate picture of the security risks from social media sites

If security practitioners are not incorporating social media into their risk assessment, they are leaving a blind spot. In order to understand the scope of vulnerabilities, "They need to leverage social media to identify changes in the threat landscape," said Raggo.

Social media represents one of the largest, most dynamic risks to organizational security.

Mike Raggo, chief research officer, and Evan Blair, co-founder and chief business officer of ZeroFOX

"As social media becomes a major platform for business communication, cyber criminals are exploiting its inherent trust and widespread connectivity to target employees and customers."

Raggo said that many enterprises are starting to understand the problem and more are looking to know not only how social media leads to compromise but also what security teams can do to solve the problem.

Jared Semrau, manager, vulnerability and exploitation at FireEye, said, " At its core, social media enables people to connect quicker and more widely than they otherwise would."

Though seemingly harmless in its intent, social media contributes to the spread of information that can help facilitate malicious activity, "Such as information pertaining to vulnerabilities, exploit or proof-of-concept code, and attack methods," Semrau said.

Malicious actors have leveraged these social media platforms to bolster their existing operations. Semrau said, "They are using these platforms to expose their social engineering schemes to a wider audience or lending credibility to existing activity by creating social media profiles, activity, and networks (as was the case with Newscaster), these platforms are having a direct role in malicious activity and the threat landscape as a whole."

If there were an easy answer to what enterprises can do to avoid these risks, everybody would be free and clear of the threats posed by social media sites. Unfortunately, there is not a lot that can be done to completely avoid the risks.

"That being said," Semrau said, "the first step to minimizing your risk is to understand the threats to you and your organization. You can spend millions of dollars implementing tools or countermeasures, but if you do not have a comprehensive understanding of your threat environment, that money may be wasted."

Understanding and prioritizing will raise awareness and hopefully change user behavior, which will consequently strengthen security. "Understanding the threats, prioritizing those that impact you and your organization the most, and implementing specific mitigations or countermeasures to deal with those specific threats will probably offer you the best chance of success," said Semrau.

Since it is difficult to improve the reliability of any given tool, Semrau recommended that organizations get a better understanding of what their tools or services were designed to do. "Understand what information is used to support those offerings, and ultimately decide whether those tools fit their specific needs," Semrau said.


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