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Facebook's new messaging system faces risks

Social networking site Facebook's new online messaging service makes users of the social networking site more vulnerable to identity theft by cybercriminals, computer security firm Sophos has warned.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2010 22:40 IST

Social networking site Facebook's new online messaging service makes users of the social networking site more vulnerable to identity theft by cybercriminals, computer security firm Sophos has warned.

It urged users to be aware of the security risks before signing up for Facebook's next-generation online messaging service that blends online chat, text messages and other real-time tools with traditional email.

"Users need to realise that these new features increase the attack surface on the Facebook platform, and make personal accounts all the more alluring for cybercriminals to break into," Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley said on Thursday.

"Facebook accounts will now be linked with many more people in the users' social circles, opening up new opportunities for identity fraudsters to attack," he said in a statement.

Sophos noted that fraudsters are increasingly using hacked Facebook accounts to send spam messages because they are more likely to be opened by recipients lured to think the messages came from friends.

"Facebook will be storing a complete archive of all their communications with one person. This raises concerns as to how this data could be misused if it fell into the wrong hands," Cluley said.

"It will be critical for Facebook to implement more effective filtering mechanisms to prevent fraudsters from manipulating Facebook users into falling victim to new spams, scams and phishing attacks," he said.

Facebook's new messaging system was launched on Monday and includes facebook.com email addresses.

Market watchers say that with the site's large user base, a free personalised email service lays down a powerful challenge to the established email giants such as Google's Gmail.