Feeds

Facebook message security risks 'open door to Web 2.0 botnet'

Nowhere is safe! Nowhere!

Seven Steps to Software Security

Security watchers have already begun fretting about the security implications of Facebook's new messaging system, warning that compromised accounts might be used to create potent Web 2.0 botnets.

The system brings together Facebook messages, instant messaging chat and SMS messages in one location, a development that increases the value of compromised accounts to spammers while simultaneously increasing the number of ways to attack accounts (or the attack surface).

"Facebook accounts will now be linked with many more people in the users' social circles - opening up new opportunities for identity fraudsters to launch attacks," warned net security firm Sophos.

Miscreants have been using compromised accounts to spread spam since Facebook first opened up to general usage. Spam sent via the social network often invokes survey scam and malware lures as well as the occasional penis pill advert.

Users are more likely to open and trust a message which appears to have been sent by someone they know - one of their Facebook friends - a factor that makes the platform more attractive to spammers and other assorted cybercrooks.

Much earlier attention has focused on the strong likelihood that @facebook.com users will receive spam messages from external parties. But the greater threat, according to Sophos, comes from the possibility that cybercrooks will use phishing to compromise Facebook messaging accounts.

"Careless password security and other factors could lead to the creation of Web 2.0 botnet," a Sophos spokesman said.

Until Facebook rolls out plans to apply always-on encryption, users accounts also remain exposed to cookie capture compromise in open Wi-Fi networks, a risk graphically illustrated with the recent release of Firesheep.

Facebook has made use of third-party anti-spam services and in-house technology in tackling the problem of spam that already exists on Facebook. However, Sophos reckons these ad-hoc campaigns have amounted to an exercise in "whack-a-mole" that has failed to address underlying problems.

Sophos is also concerned that Facebook's messaging system will permanently archive content, outside of the control of users.

The net security firm has put together a guide designed to help users understand the potential security implications of signing up to the service, which can be found here.

Many people are likely to use Facebook's messaging system bot at home and at work. According to stats from next-generation firewall vendor Palo Alto Networks, Facebook Mail has appearing consistently in the top five most frequently used webmail applications.

Use of the application is dwarfed by Gmail and Hotmail usage within corporates, but usage within corporates has grown from 0.2 per cent to three per cent over the last two years. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
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
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.