CeBIT 2012: Social media is a tool for cyber criminals, says Eugene Kaspersky

Kaspersky Labs’ co-founder discusses how cyber criminals use social media to manipulate people

Kaspersky Labs co-founder, Eugene Kaspersky.

Kaspersky Labs co-founder, Eugene Kaspersky.

Social media is the latest tool in the arsenal of cyber criminals, with groups using social networking websites such as Twitter to “manipulate the masses” into thinking a certain way, according to Kaspersky Labs’ co-founder and chief executive, Eugene Kaspersky.

Speaking at CeBIT in Sydney, Kaspersky told delegates that by identifying key influencers, groups can send messages to the influencers via social networking websites who can then pass these on to the wider public.

The grill: Eugene Kaspersky.

“It is very easy to manipulate people and I’m afraid that if the wrong people have the right strategy, this will be a very serious issue for governments,” he said.

Hacktivist group Anonymous casts a long shadow over Twitter with multiple accounts and chapters representing different countries publicising the group’s activities such as its protest against the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA).

According to Kaspersky, there were two future scenarios regarding the use of social media: 100 per cent freedom to use the networks which could be dangerous, or Big Brother style controls which could be safer. “I’m afraid I have no scenario in between,” he said.

Turning to cyber warfare, Kaspersky said that supervisory control and data acquistion (SCADA) attacks were more likely to happen in the future because so many critical networks, such as power grids, were connected to the internet.

“There are two scenarios: An attack on infrastructure like the electricity grid, or an attack on the internet or mobile network,” he said.

“Hackers have the power to connect to whatever they want. Nothing is 100 per cent protected and that’s why we have to take action, before it’s too late.”

However, Kaspersky was more optimistic about the ability of law enforcement agencies to take on cyber criminals with the announcement that Interpol (International Police) will open a cyber office in Singapore in 2014.

Kaspersky had previously called for the formation of an Internet Interpol and better co-ordination between international law enforcement agencies.

While the past six years has proved to be the "Golden Age" of cybercrime--with the criminal activity now ranked second only to drug trafficking-- he said that golden age would soon be over now governments were taking cybercrime seriously.

“Only very professional Russian cyber criminals will stay in business, there will no longer be a cybercrime paradise,” he said. “Cybercrime damages national economies and international economies-- we estimate malware based cybercrime alone causes US$100 billion a year worth of damage.”

In addition to the Interpol cyber office, Kaspersky reiterated his AusCERT 2011 discussion on internet identification, a type of passport that identifies users when they log on to the internet. The use of an internet ID could help combat identity theft issues such as criminals searching online for scanned passport documents, he said.

“Why do we need internet IDs? Simply because we have kids and children [that] are always online,” he said. “Kids are digital natives, we are digital immigrants. They will not accept offline services if they are available online.”

Finally, Kaspersky discussed privacy--or the lack of it. “There is no privacy in this world. When you travel you pay with credit cards, [and] if you use cable TV, there is too much information collected about you.

“There is a huge risk because so much private information is collected from everyone. If the wrong person or the wrong organisation has access to that data, it is not only a problem for you but for governments.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

More about Brother International (Aust) Pty LtdCeBITCERTInternational PoliceInterpolKasperksy LabsKasperskyKaspersky Lab

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