Avoiding a Facebook Virus – Things You Should Know

Avoiding a Facebook Virus – Things You Should Know
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Facebook Virus – Why Facebook?

Facebook Virus: If you have a face 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 five years ago is now a multi-billion website with approximately 500 million active users as of July 2010.That there are plenty of pages, applications, games, and luring ads on Facebook and you feel the urge to try many of them. With such a grand base, the bad guys need not look any further if they want to gain entry into different computers. The games, applications, pages, and ads can be a trap inviting malware into your computer.

Methods to Spread Facebook Virus

The bad guys, or hackers as we call them technically, 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 virus and worms. Read Dealing with Facebook Security Problem for basic information on keeping your Facebook account safe.

The most basic way to avoid a virus or any other malware is to avoid any post, video, page or application that looks 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. An example of recently video spread virus was titled, “Sexiest Video Ever.” This is not available anymore on Facebook, but you need to be careful should anyone send the link via email. The next sections will talk about different known Facebook viruses and methods to deal with them.

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 virus and other malware.

Stop Facebook Virus – Use the Like Button Sparingly

Fig 2 - Facebook Virus - Like It Button

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 creates curiosity and many people click the link to get more details. The page asks you to click on the Like button before you can access the details. Once you click the Like button, down goes the malware into your computer. You can get more information about the page at bypassFanpages website.

See more information about Likejacking at How to Avoid Facebook Scams.

This might scare you from clicking on the Like button even on your friends’ posts on their walls. However, you need not worry 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 to download malware just by clicking the initial link (videos are an exception).

The next page looks at more Facebook virus that spread using videos, external Unlike It buttons, emails, and so forth.

Spreading Virus using Facebook Videos

As mentioned earlier, people downloaded malware into their computers when they clicked to play a video titled “Sexiest Video Ever.” Plenty of such videos exist on Facebook. While this particular video was noticed and removed from Facebook, you can still be prone to Facebook video virus.

Koobface is one such virus that makes use of Facebook videos to install malware into your computer. It is pretty easy to catch, though. When you click to play the video, it asks you to update your Flash Player and takes you to a site that looks like 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 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 to check out the authenticity of the add-on that the video asking. Similarly, you can install the latest Flash Player by visiting the Adobe website directly. This keeps you safe. If you think you are infected, please check our article on How to Remove Koobface Virus.

Note that Facebook is aware of the virus and Kaspersky is working closely with Facebook to eliminate any such videos doing rounds on the social networking website. Still, it is better to stay on your guard using the above tips.

Facebook Virus through Emails

As mentioned earlier, users of Facebook are easy targets when they leave their email addresses or phone numbers on their profiles. The hackers retrieve these email IDs and phone numbers to send them links that lead to sites that download malware into their computers and smartphones. While one of the best Internet Security Software should be able to stop infiltration of malware from such sites, sometimes they cannot help – given the rate of new virus developments.

If you find 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 such emails sound personal with subjects such as “Your photo on Facebook,” “Action needed: Facebook,” “This is a must see,” etc.

The Facebook Dislike It Button

Fig 3 - Facebook Virus - The Facebook Dislike Button

As many Facebook users wish to have a Dislike button as well, Facemod came up with a Dislike button that can be installed as a plug in for Firefox. While very few people knew of the original Dislike button (please note that Mozilla did not review this button as well), many downloaded it from third parties instead of the Mozilla add-on page.

The third-party Dislike button is more of a rogue button than a virus. It intends to collect your personal data by presenting you a survey. Later, it sends fake messages to your friends asking them to install the button. This Facebook add-on does not download anything to your computer but it sure is dangerous in a sense that it asks for your personal information, which may be utilized later for any purpose.

These are just few of malware on the social networking site. If you wish to talk about any new Facebook virus, please use our comments section.