Facebook Messenger used to spread malware

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Olivia Storey

New malware has been found spreading via Facebook Messenger, which uses social engineering to trick users into clicking.

The malware personalises the Facebook Messenger attacks by sending a video link with a bit.ly web address and entitling it with the recipient’s name, i.e. ‘Louise Video’.

The link then takes them to a Google document, which has been created to look like a movie, which actually doesn’t play, using a picture taken from the victim’s Facebook page.

As the ‘video’ isn’t actually playable, when the victim clicks on it the malware reacts with a different response depending on the victim’s operating systems, which displays various pop ups and adware.

Firefox used a fake Flash Update notice, Google Chrome a mimicked YouTube website with adware and error messages that tricks the user to download a malicious Google Chrome extension, and OSX Safari browser was similar to Firefox, but customised for Apple.

Sadly, by having many friends on Facebook you can involuntarily attack a large amount of people at once, as it targets your whole friends list with personalised attacks.

Mark James, ESET IT Security Specialist,answers why criminals targeting victims like this, and how to best protect yourself from attacks via malicious links.

“Criminals understand exactly how valuable a tool social media is, in our modern daily lives often the one thing that gets attention as soon as we wake up and throughout our day until we go to sleep is Facebook.

“It’s full of interesting information about people we don’t get to see on a daily basis or community information and it’s often a great way for people to keep in contact that would normally never speak to each other.

“We also have an inherent trust in our friends and family; sadly we take that trust from an understandable physical format like face to face or body language and manifest it into a digital existence.

“Often mistakenly thinking that our real life person and our online contact is the same person, so if a message comes in from your BFF, partner or best buddy at work there is an extremely good chance you will click and read it.

“Even someone who has not contacted you for a while would still tease those fingertips into clicking the message and possibly following a link, why? Because we want to trust that person, and we want them to be genuine, it’s in our nature, and besides our BFF would not send a dodgy link, right?

“WRONG. There is a good chance it’s not them, malware may well be the sender and you don’t want malware as your best friend!"

What can organisations do to defend or mitigate such attacks? What can users do to protect themselves.

“Caution and Security software are your only defences.

“Making sure you have a good regular updating multi-layered internet security software installed will help to protect you if you do end up falling foul to malware.

“Caution on the other hand may not be so easy.

“Even if you think you know the sender, you should always be very weary of links in messages.

“They are often shortened so will give you no clue as to their destination.

“In an ideal world double check with the sender through an alternative contact method, if you really do need to follow the link to ensure it’s genuine.

“Even then make sure your operating systemand applications are fully patched and updated to lower your chances of being hit through an exploit or vulnerability.”

Have you ever received dodgy messages or emails from your friends? Let us know on Twitter @ESETUK.

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