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Giving your coordinates compromises your security

By Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky Lab expresses concerns over location-based service

23 August 2010, Johannesburg - Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of secure content management solutions, warns that location-based services, which are a newly added feature which allows users to share their whereabouts with other people by disclosing their own location, is a very popular trend on social networking platforms but can increase users' security risk profiles immensely. For instance, iPhone Twitter clients have been known to post GPS coordinates for quite a while with Google Places offering users a similar service. The problem, warns Stefan Tanase, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab's EEMEA global research and analysis team, is that many people fail to see the consequences of the vast amount of personal data that they put out on the Web due to being part of a social media network.

Social networks continue to add new applications to their platforms – most being location-based services. In fact, Facebook introduced this service just last week. Continues Tanase; “If we consider that it is estimated that more than a quarter of Facebook users access the site via mobile devices, these users are ideal candidates for such location-based services. Obviously, there are a number of benefits from using this type of service while interacting with your friends; however the security implications are substantial in that other people might be able to track your movements as well.”

Of course, the question is how can tracking your movements affect your online security? While location-based technology provides trend-setting social media services, the potential for its misuse potentially outweighs its usefulness. There have been known cases when thieves break into a house after seeing that the owners were on vacation through the use of a social networking web site.

“Criminals usually seek personal data for identity theft. Providing location-based information gives them additional information to further recreate your persona,” adds Tanase. “Criminals used to be more reliant on social engineering to get personal information, but with social networks we see the trend of criminals being able to access publicly available information from the Internet – which gives them an edge – yet despite such security concerns, I think we are going to see more and more such features.”

Concludes Tanase; “Some simple yet crucial advice then: do not post your location online if you don't want people to know where you are and be careful whom you befriend on social networks. And bear in mind that the data you post on social networks could become public one day. Consider everything you post as potentially public and potentially a security risk.”

About Kaspersky Lab
Kaspersky Lab is the largest antivirus company in Europe. It delivers some of the world's most immediate protection against IT security threats, including viruses, spyware, crimeware, hackers, phishing, and spam. The company is ranked among the world's top four vendors of security solutions for endpoint users. Kaspersky Lab products provide superior detection rates and one of the industry's fastest outbreak response times for home users, SMBs, large enterprises and the mobile computing environment. Kaspersky® technology is also used worldwide inside the products and services of the industry's leading IT security solution providers. Learn more at www.kaspersky.com. For the latest on antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-spam and other IT security issues and trends, visit www.viruslist.com