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Editor's note: How can the cloud fit into your applications strategy? Learn how here.

Towards the end of the noughties, Web 2.0 was the buzzword of the Internet. As we enter this new decade the popularity of social networking websites such as YouTube, Friends Reunited, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a whole raft of new online innovations that facilitate greater communication show no signs of abating.

Web 2.0 is not just a consumer phenomenon. Many organizations of all shapes and sizes have been quick to recognize its considerable potential to create a direct dialogue with their customers. Furthermore, many employees will access social networking sites either from the office, or externally on a device belonging to the organization, whether authorized or not.

Yet, while the vast majority of the business media's spotlight has been pinpointed on the wasted man-hours resulting from employees using such sites for personal use, little focus has been placed on the real and present danger from the growth of Web 2.0 -- specifically cybercrime.

The rise of Web 2.0 malware

In 2007, when Web 2.0 was in its relative infancy, there were just over 10,000 malicious software samples reported to be spreading via social networking sites. This figure rose to over 25,000 during 2008 and the statistics for the last year will undoubtedly be significantly higher again, in line with an overall trend in malware growth rates.

So why are Web 2.0 attacks on the rise? For the same reason that there is currently more Windows-based malware than Mac malware, it all comes down to economies of scale and effectiveness.

Put simply, cybercriminals go where the crowds are! Social networking sites have experienced exponential growth in usage -- in fact it is estimated that around 80 percent of all Internet users accessed social networking sites in 2009, equivalent to more than one billion people.

The ever-entrepreneurial cybercriminals have been quick to identify this "market" opportunity and the fruits of their labor (for example, stealing passwords and confidential information that can be sold or used for profit) have proven successful with malicious code distributed via social networking sites proving to be 10 times more effective than malware spread via email.


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