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Date:01/07/11

Microsoft highlights evolving dangers as online identity data proliferates

Identity information of internet users is becoming increasingly complex and difficult to secure, according to a senior director at software giant Microsoft. Paul Nicholas, senior director, global security strategy and diplomacy from Microsoft, explained that individuals' privacy is threatened not just by the increasing levels of personal data on the internet, but by the fact that the nature of that data is evolving.
As a result, he explained, hacking and social engineering attacks are becoming more widespread, and are likely to worsen in the coming months.
Social engineering attacks in particular are used by hackers to circumvent enterprise security protocols, which is a concern for all in the IT industry, not least Microsoft."Identity is becoming a lot more three dimensional. It's about where you live and work, and your patterns of behaviour. This information is of interest to governments and industry, and users need to be aware of exactly what they're making available."
Nicholas explained that the trend began in 2009 in the UK as internet use moved away from auction sites such as eBay, and instant messaging services such as MSN Messenger, and into social networking sites like Facebook.
"In 2009 people started joining communities and sharing photos a lot more. The UK is one of the largest areas where we saw this movement."According to Nicholas, the trend towards gesture-based control systems, such as Microsoft's own Kinect for its XBox platform, pose further potential risks."Hackers are to drop code on your machine and log your keystrokes, but now they might be able to capture and model your physical algorithms."He stated that although he had not yet witnessed an application for this potential vulnerability, it is something that Microsoft is currently considering how to secure. He added that social networking also presents a risk to governments.
"It's challenging for governments as they want to be more transparent and have a presence on social networks, but that is a potential entry point for would-be attackers."



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