Feeds

Secret Crush widget spreads adware on Facebook

Worming through users' affection

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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 ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.