Feeds

Secret Crush widget spreads adware on Facebook

Worming through users' affection

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A "malicious widget" on Facebook is leaving love-hungry social networkers feeling crushed.

The widget - which poses as a "Secret Crush" request inviting prospective marks to find out which of their friends might have the hots for them - acts as a social worm, prompting users to unwittingly download the infamous Zango adware application, security appliance firm Fortinet warns. Users tempted into installing the application are told they need to invite at least five friends before they'll be able to get any further.

Secret Crush pushes adware

Even after that step, no crush of any sort is revealed and the abused user is left facing the frame inviting users to install Crush Calculator. This ap is hosted in the affiliates section of Zango's website and downloads the adware application onto victims who proceed with the download.

Zango was established as a rebranding exercise following the 2006 acquisition of Hotbar by 180solutions. The firm publishes Hotbar, Seekmo Search Assistant, and other adware programs of dubious merit.

The tactics used to seed the application in this case are subtle, and proving effective. Those who have seeded the program within Facebook are cashing in, getting rewarded "per click" as Zango affiliates.

The widget is already being used by three per cent of the Facebook community or around one million users, according to Fortinet which has published an advisory containing screenshots that document the threat.

"Unlike many social worms, the 'Secret Crush' propagation strategy does not rely on phishing or any sort of user-space customisation feature abuse. Rather, it relies on pure social engineering which is based on simple manipulation strategies such as 'escalation of commitment'. Since users have freely chosen to install the widget at the cost of disclosing their personal information, psychologically speaking it is difficult for them to stop the process at that point," Fortinet notes.

Fortinet has warned Facebook of the problem. We're waiting to hear back from Facebook on our requests for comment.

Facebook users can find the offending Secret Crush application at http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?api_key=64e35ff1e9860c511f9b79918472fa70 ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems
US CERT says three flavours of control kit are under attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.