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Lying Facebook app offers Google+ invites

Trendjackers spam your friends, slurp your data

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Facebook scammers have latched onto the buzz around Google+, as the theme for a new scam that has already claimed thousands of fans victims.

A fake app, called "Google Plus Direct Access", prompts users to visit a page on the social networking site they need to "like" in order to progress: a process that hands over personal information to the unknown developers of the dodgy app. Wouldbe victims are falsely offered a chance of getting an invitation to Google+, it is implied, in exchange for spamming their friends with invites to try out the rogue app.

No such offer is actually available.

In reality victims only succeed in further publicising the rogue app, which falsely claims that it offers a means to "Invite 50 friends!" onto Google+.

The whole ploy, which might easily be altered to promote sites harbouring malware on running privacy-threatening survey scams, is already serving as an efficient spreading mechanism.

Net security firm BitDefender reports that the tactic has allowed the dodgy application to gain more than 15,000 fans in less than a day.

"This scam highlights the importance to cybercriminals of 'trendjacking' the latest big news in order to exploit people's natural curiosity," said Catalin Cosoi, head of BitDefender's online threats lab. "With high press coverage and the estimated number of users approaching 10 million, Google+ certainly fits the bill as a hook for this sort of activity."

Stats from BitDefender's Safego Facebook security app suggest that 25 per cent of users had seen some form of malicious content shared by one of their friends at one time or another.

Net security firm Sophos echoes BitDefender's warning, adding that social networking users need to be careful about what application they allow, a precaution that especially applies when the basic premise of an app is suspicious. Easy invitations to Facebook's new rival in the social network market is hardly something you'd think the Zuckerberg-run outfit would be looking to encourage.

"You should also exercise great caution about what third-party apps you allow to access your Facebook records, especially when they are demanding the ability to post to your wall and grab personal information such as your date of birth and current location," Sophos warns.

A full write-up of the Google+ invite scam, along with advice on how to clean up your profile after mistakenly installing this type of app, can be found in a blog post by Sophos here. ®

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