BitDefender Study Finds Majority of Social Network Users Do Not Check Shared Links for Malware

December 2010


Study conducted on Facebook╝ and Twitter╝ reveals ninety-seven percent of respondents will click any link shared on their social platform without first checking it for malware.

 

In light of their recent study, BitDefender®, an award-winning provider of innovative internet security solutions, today stressed the need for social network users to check all shared links before clicking to access the content.

This study aimed to determine whether curiosity is still the most successful bait for malware dissemination campaigns targeting social network community members.

In the study, Facebook® and Twitter® test profiles were first created and used to build a circle of friends interested in reading about the latest news from various domains covering an assortment of hot topics such as accidents, security news, entertainment industry news and scientific discoveries. Over a three week interval, the test profiles sent safe links to articles with the following request to an accumulated list of over 1,900 friends: “if the link doesn’t work, please tell me in order to use another link shortening system.”

During the second stage of the study, in the span of one week, three URLs leading to malware were shortened and modified to make the malicious pages unavailable and harmless, then sent out to the list of friends. Despite countless awareness campaigns aimed to warn users about the possible dangers behind shortened links, ninety-seven percent of the test profile’s friends admitted to clicking the bad links.

“Despite their enhanced ease of use and of transmission, short URLs have a huge disadvantage from the point of view of data security: because of the short link’s cryptic nature, the user doesn’t know what’s behind the link before actually accessing it,” said Sabina Datcu, BitDefender E-Threats Analyst and Communication Specialist and the author of this experiment. “These kinds of links can be easily used to direct unsuspecting visitors to malware-laden, spam-spreading or phishing sites.”

Facebook users can stay safe with the free BitDefender safego application designed to keep social network accounts from being exposed to malware and spam. According to recent statistics released by the BitDefender, twenty percent of the application’s users turned out to have at least one bad link in their news feeds.

More details about this study are available here, on MalwareCity.com.

All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners.

No private information or other content arising or deriving from this inquiry has been collected. No data or confidential information pertaining to individuals or companies was or will be disclosed, used for any other purposes or against the persons who revealed it.


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