Facebook Spam messages on the increase
Spammers and criminals have always targeted Facebook users in the past, ever since Facebook’s increased popularity meant millions more potential victims joining the peer networking site each month. As of late Facebook members have received a barrage of messages from their ‘friends’ which appears to be legitimate at first glance, but upon closer inspection isn’t. These messages contain links that if clicked on, will redirect members to an external website which will try to install a Trojan to the PC.
If successful, this Trojan could go on to disable your PC, use it as part of a mass spamming campaign which further targets your friends and contacts and even steal your personal data. This is the perversion of the true essence of Facebook, as its real intention of the site is to help people connect with their friends and people in their network. For a Facebook user who has a lot of friends in his network he could receive upwards of a dozen such messages each week alone.
The real question to ask is how to differentiate between real messages and requests from fellow Facebook users in your network, and between malicious messages containing spam links? And what would happen if you do click on one of the infected links?
The first question will keep us busy for a while, so let’s take it one step at a time. As a hypothetical, one Facebook account holder’s account had been hacked by spammers. The hackers had sent out numerous messages from the hacked account to contacts in the Facebook member’s network. The email that the hacked user’s contacts will receive will be from a person they know and trust. This is not a new tactic used by spammers, but one that have been used for years, as they know there is a greater chance that their targets will open emails from familiar contacts than from an unknown sender. Spam messages usually have obvious grammatical and spelling errors, which also points to their suspect nature. The body of the message and the subject can also be generic in nature, which means that it can be targeted at a lot of different people without sounding like it is aimed at one specific person. This should also already alert your sixth sense that some is amiss here.
It is a very good habit to start looking at links in any Facebook message you receive. Should you receive a message that contains multiple http links, chances are you’d be better off not clicking on any of the links. Rather check from the sender if they really had sent the messages If you suspect that you have received a spam Facebook message, delete the email and delete your Trash Folder. Do the same in your Facebook account.
What would happen if you made the mistake of clicking on a corrupt link anyway?
Hopefully your PC’s security software is current and updated. If you keep up to date with the Microsoft updates and your antivirus tool monitors your surfing habits you will hopefully receive a warning or notification that you are about to visit a dangerous site, and your browser will be barred from visiting that site. Older antivirus applications that are still updated regularly may not warn you that you are about to visit a dangerous website, but it will most probably not allow the Trojan to infect the system.
The point is that if you have an active and updated antivirus application installed, there is a chance that you will avoid infection, whereas if you don’t, then you will definitely face infection. You decide which odds you like most. So pay attention to the links you click on, as you are the first line of defense against malicious software out to target your PC. Also backup all your files frequently. Should you indeed succumb to an infection, sometimes the best way to remedy that is by completely wiping your HD.