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Hoax Facebook virus makes more trouble than a real virus

Don't tell all your friends

Website security in corporate America

A hoax Facebook virus is spreading rapidly across the social network.

Many users have been hoodwinked into forwarding an inaccurate warning about the spread of non-existent malware that claims a girl committed suicide over a post her father wrote on her Facebook wall.

No such tragedy has occurred but many are forwarding the wrong-headed message (extract below) creating confusion in the process.

WARNING: THERE IS A VIRUS GOING AROUND AGAIN, IF YOU SEE A GIRL WHO KILLED HERSELF OVER SOMETHING HER FATHER WROTE ON HER WALL DO NOT OPEN IT, IT IS A VIRUS AND IT WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO DELETE IT, PLEASE PASS THIS ON BEFORE SOMEONE OPENS IT. (IT IS A SELF REPLICATING TROJAN)

People are passing on the warning in the mistaken belief they are helping Facebook friends to avoid a threat. In reality, they are spreading a hoax about a non-existent virus infection. The bogus warning is arguably causing more of a nuisance than a genuine malware infection, according to net security firm Sophos.

It adds that miscreants have exploited the confusion created by the warning by establishing Facebook pages that supposedly offer pictures from the fictitious girl's Facebook wall, but are really designed to make money by tricking surfers into wasting their time completing online surveys of dubious merit.

Malware hoaxes were part and parcel of net life long before the advent of social networking. Surfers are advised to check out warnings with reputable sources before spreading them along.

Internet rumours suggest a girl called Emma killed herself on Christmas Eve 2008 after being bullied on Facebook. However, supposed extracts of conversations that led up to this "tragic event" show "Like" buttons, a feature Facebook only introduced months later.

A more detailed explanation of the genesis of the hoax and its effects can be found in a blog post by Sophos here. ®

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