My First Status Scam Spreads Virally on Facebook, Sophos Warns

Thousands of Facebook users hit by new scam designed to earn revenue for scammers

MUMBAI / BANGALORE, India – January 7, 2011 – IT security and control firm, Sophos, is warning Facebook users about the latest survey scam which is spreading virally across the social network.

Messages claiming to share the users’ first ever Facebook status updates are being posted on users’ walls by a rogue application.

Typical posts read—

“My 1st St@tus was: ‘[random message]’.  This was posted on [random date]

Find your 1st St@tus @ [LINK]”

If users click on this link, which appears to be posted by a Facebook friend, they are taken to a rogue Facebook application. This application will then ask users to give it permission to access their profile. This gives the rogue application the ability to post the same message from the affected account. Users are also taken to a webpage which contains a survey. Those behind the scam make commission from the number of people completing this survey and in some cases, Facebook users might also be asked for their mobile phone numbers in order to sign them up for an expensive, premium-rate service.

Sadly, many people are all too quick to give permission to rogue applications like this, giving the bad guys free reign of their Facebook account,” said Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos.  “If users allow these applications to access their profiles, they may well find that the application has posted a message on their Facebook page, which is visible to all of their online friends, helping to spread the scam further. I deliberately infected a test account with this application, and it didn’t even get my first status or the date correct!  Unfortunately, by the time users realise this, they might have already helped the scammers by spreading the message across their network.”

Facebook users who have been affected should delete references to this scam from their wall, to avoid sharing it further with their online friends.

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About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing security and data protection solutions that are simple to manage, deploy and use, and that deliver the industry’s lowest TCO. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, and network access control solutions backed by SophosLabs—a global network of threat intelligence centers. With more than two decades of experience, Sophos is regarded as a leader in security and data protection by top analyst firms and has received many industry awards. Sophos is headquartered in Oxford, UK and Boston, US. More information is available at www.sophos.com

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