Feeds

Automated attacks push malware on Facebook

More captcha busting suspected

Boost IT visibility and business value

Hackers have figured out how to create computer-generated Facebook profiles and are using them to trick unsuspecting users into installing malware, a security researcher warned Thursday.

The fraudulent profiles display the same picture of a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman, but with slightly different names and birthdates, said Roger Thompson, chief of research at security firm AVG Technologies. Each invites visitors to click on what purports to be a video link that ultimately tries to trick viewers into installing rogue anti-virus software.

AVG's LinkScanner product, which monitors webpages in real time to make sure they're not malicious, has encountered "hundreds" of separate pages. But because AVG only sees a page when one of its subscribers tries to click on one, Thompson suspects the total number of fake profiles is in the thousands.

"There are enough of them that it's probably an indication of an automated attack," Thompson told The Reg. "I just can't see someone creating the same profile time after time after time."

That means the attackers have figured out how to crack the captcha Facebook uses to ensure profiles are created by humans, rather than computer scripts that automate the process so it can be carried out thousands of times.

If Thompson is correct, it's by no means the first time hackers have figured out how to bypass the measure on a high-profile website. Captchas for Google Mail and Microsoft's Windows Live email services have been successfully cracked before. In some cases, scripts that use optical recognition technology are suspected to be at work. In other cases, sweat shops that rely on people to solve the captcha puzzles are likely at play.

In any case, the availability of an unlimited number of fraudulent accounts is extremely valuable to scammers. Web-based email accounts typically get the green light from anti-spam products, and end users have an inherent, if misplaced, trust in social networking profiles.

Thompson's report came the same day that the FBI issued this advisory warning people to be wary of fraud on social networking sites.

Facebook engineers are doing a good job killing the fake profiles, Thompson said. But at time of writing, many were still available, as pages like this one attests. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?