f you have a profile on Facebook, you are an easy target for a Facebook virus. Almost everyone, be it an expert user or a novice, has a Facebook account. What started as a small social networking site six years ago is now a multi-billion dollar website with approximately 500 million active users.
There are plenty of pages, applications, games, and luring ads on Facebook and most of us have had urges to try many of them. With such a grand base, hackers need not look any further if they want to gain entry into Facebook users PC’s. These games, applications and ads can be a trap opening doors to malware and allowing access into your computer.
Methods of Spreading Facebook Viruses
The bad guys, or hackers as they are commonly called, use both internal and external tactics to gain access to your computer. The internal method is easy. Create a luring application and insert a malicious code or merge a malware code into a video embedding code and then post it on Facebook. When you click on the link to play the video or to open the application, the code downloads malware to your computer. As there is no restriction on creating applications, anyone can create such applications/games for use with Facebook. Though Facebook might remove suspicious applications, ads, and posts after receiving complaints, it may be too late.
The other method is to send emails to Facebook subscribers. Most of the people post their email addresses and smartphone numbers on their Facebook profile. This makes them easy targets for Facebook viruses and worms.
So what can you do to avoid Facebook security problems?
• Use a good security and antivirus software solution that can identify malicious scripts and prevent downloads of malware.
• Avoid posting confidential information on your profile.
• Avoid any posts, videos, pages or applications that look out of this world. You can still have fun on Facebook, but it is wise to read user reviews of Facebook games before trying them. A recent example of a video spread virus titled ‘Sexiest Video Ever’ caused chaos for Facebook users and infected over 300,000 computers worldwide. This video link is no longer available on Facebook, but users still need to be careful should they receive the link via email.
Note: The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg says that there is no option of screening new applications before they go live as Facebook is meant to be an open space. This increases the risk of Facebook viruses and other malware.
Stop Facebook Viruses – Use the ‘Like’ Button Sparingly
You have probably used the Like button on Facebook. However, the same Like button that you used to show your appreciation for a post can now pose a threat to your computers. The most recent threat was a page saying “This Girl Committed Suicide after Her Dad Posted This on Her Wall (see image)” . Obviously, this page created curiosity and many people clicked on the link to get more details. The page asked you to click on the Like button before you could access the details. Once you clicked the Like button, malware was automatically downloaded into your computer.
This might scare you from clicking on the Like button even on your friends’ posts on their walls. However, you need not worry too much. Just take some precautions and you should be safe. If the wall post is something typed in manually, you can always Like It without any fear. If your friend shares a page, check the origin of the page. You can click the original link to see where it goes and what steps it requires. If it is a normal page, it will open up without any additional requests. Other pages ask you to click on additional links before they present information. If you encounter such a scenario, it is better to close the window than to click on the additional links. It is clicking the additional links that downloads malware. So far, no Facebook page has been reported for downloading malware just by clicking the initial link (videos are an exception).
Spreading Viruses using Facebook Videos
As mentioned earlier, people have downloaded malware into their computers by clicking on a video titled ‘Sexiest Video Ever.’ Plenty of these types of videos exist on Facebook. While this particular video was noticed and removed from Facebook, you can still be prone to Facebook video viruses.
Koobface is one such virus that makes use of Facebook videos to install malware into your computer and it is pretty easy to catch. When you click to play the video, it asks you to update your Flash Player and takes you to a site that looks like a genuine Adobe site. If you click on anything, you download the malware. There are several variations of the Koobface virus, each of which asks you to click on an additional link when you Play the Facebook video. When you encounter any scenarios where clicking on a video asks you to install something, forget that video and stay safe. You can later Google-it to check out the authenticity of the add-on that the video is requesting. Similarly, you can install the latest Flash Player by visiting the Adobe website directly (www.adobe.com).
Note that Facebook is aware of the virus and Kaspersky is working closely with Facebook to eliminate any such videos doing the rounds on the social networking website. Still, it is better to stay on your guard by following the tips mentioned earlier.
Facebook Viruses through Emails
Users of Facebook are easy targets when they leave their email addresses or phone numbers on their profiles. Hackers retrieve these email ID’s and phone numbers and use them to send links that lead to sites which download malware into their computers and smartphones. While most good security and antivirus software solutions help stop infiltration of malware from such sites, sometimes they are unable to help – given the daily rate of new virus developments.
If you receive any email with a link that claims to offer you something that you are not expecting, just delete it instead of taking risks. Most of these types of emails look and sound personal with subjects such as “Your photo on Facebook,” “Action needed: Facebook,” “This is a must see,” etc.
The Facebook’Dislike’ It Button
Many Facebook users have wished for a Dislike button so Facemod (a serial entrepreneur) came up with a Dislike button that can be installed as a plug in for the Mozilla Firefox Web Browser. While very few people knew of the original Dislike button (please note that Mozilla has not reviewed this button), many have downloaded it from third party sites other than the Mozilla add-on page.
These third-party Dislike buttons are more of a rogue button than a virus. These buttons intentionally collect your personal data by presenting you with a survey and later send fake messages to your friends asking them to install the button. This Facebook add-on does not download anything to your computer but it is most dangerous in the sense that it asks for your personal information, which may be used at a later stage for various purposes – be it good or bad.