The popularity of social networks and social media sites has grabbed the attention of cyber crooks searching to pilfer passwords and steal sensitive personal information, reports the Wall Street Journal. The hackers are exploiting users’ sense of safety within these sites, says Pat Clawson, chief executive of Lumension Security, a computer security company. Earlier this month, Twitter, a social site in which users communicate in short bursts of text, was hit in a campaign to steal users’ account passwords. On business-networking site LinkedIn, criminals set up fake celebrity profiles that, when visited, downloaded malware onto users’ machines. Malware attacks in social networks are just as dangerous as ones conducted via eMail, security experts say. Hackers can mine infected computers for sensitive data, and infected computers can also be used to send out spam eMails by the thousands. Because the messages appear to come from friends, users often think they are safe, says Jose Nazario, a security researcher at Arbor Networks, a network-security company in Chelmsford, Mass. "I think the No. 1 thing that people have to remember is that it’s not as gated of a community as you think it is," he says. The attacks via social networks vary in means and intent. Some messages lure users with requests to click on a link to look at a photo or a video. The link then takes the user to a phishing site or a site with malware…

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