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Sophos: Rogue application takes advantage of Facebook terms of service Saga

February 2009 by Sophos

Sophos is advising Facebook users to exercise extra caution following the discovery of a malicious third-party application that exploits the widespread interest over changes to the site’s terms of use. This comes less than a week after another rogue third-party application called "Error Check System" sent messages to Facebook users claiming that there was a problem with their profiles, sending concerned users to malicious websites as they searched for information.

The application, named "F a c e b o o k — closing down!!!" sends messages to everyone in a Facebook user’s contact list, encouraging recipients to also add it - giving those behind the application access to victims’ profiles and personal information.

“Fans of Facebook will no doubt be aware that the site has been under scrutiny over its terms of service, and these latest attacks are designed to take full advantage of that,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “One of the problems is that Facebook allows anybody to write an application, and third-party applications are not vetted before they are made available to the public. So, even as Facebook stamps out one malicious application, another can pop up like a poisoned mushroom with a different name. It sounds like this could be a new favoured trick being used by spammers and identity thieves to build up their databases of intended targets. My advice to Facebook users is to think very carefully before adding any new applications.”

The bogus notification messages claim that a friend has reported the victim for violating Facebook’s terms of service. A typical message sent by the "F a c e b o o k — closing down!!!" application reads as follows:

’[Friend’s name] has just reported you to Facebook for violating our Terms of Service. - This is your official warning! - Click here to find out why you were reported! - Request Facebook look at what has happened and rule immediatley."

By clicking on the link, the victim not only allows the hackers to access his or her profile and personal information, but also unwittingly forwards the bogus message to all of their Facebook friends.

Facebook has since removed the application, but there are reports that similar rogue applications with names such as "My account" and "Reported For Rule Breaking" are currently circulating on the popular social networking site.




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