32 Comments

Summary:

Almost every few hours for a week I’ve been getting messages from my Facebook acquaintances with links to some phishing sites. These are not even very sophisticated messages — instead, they’re random links to utterly evil sites such as atreps.at, greenbuddy.be and nudz.ru. There have been […]

n20531316728_2397Almost every few hours for a week I’ve been getting messages from my Facebook acquaintances with links to some phishing sites. These are not even very sophisticated messages — instead, they’re random links to utterly evil sites such as atreps.at, greenbuddy.be and nudz.ru. There have been reports of these phishers using TinyURL Web address shorteners. Some have subject lines such as “Look at This” or “Hello.” According to Inside Facebook, these attacks impact less than 1 percent of Facebook users.

With around 225 million users, that works out to about 2.25 million people affected by these spam messages. Given that I have thousands of friends on Facebook, the problem seems to be particularly severe for me. (Take our poll below to let us know if you have been impacted by this spam.) The intensity of these phishing attacks has been escalating. Even though Facebook isn’t alone in facing these problems, it is certainly the largest social network to encounter them. Facebook has still not been able to fix the month-old problem that is spreading. It has some suggestions on how to avoid these scams, but I don’t think it is enough. If there is any upside of walled garden communities, it is that they should be able to avoid these kinds of problems.

What’s worse, is that these spam messages prompt “group responses” from people who either decry them as junk or warn people not to fall for them. The more such messages, the less useful Facebook becomes as a communications platform. Facebook management needs to understand that these attacks are a clear and present danger for their platform.

  1. You’re absolutely right and we’ve seen this before.

    If Facebook wants to be profitable, they need to keep their legitimate audience (vs/ spammers and fake accounts). When good users are driven from the site, FB loses too (see: MySpace).

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    1. I suspect a lot of Facebook users are spammers (just a guess, no data) or Facebook is rather a spammer itself. I got this experience in my email account that I think is familiar to any Facebook users. I got invited by a few friends whom I haven’t contacted for a long time. I asked some of those long-time friends if they had ever invited me into joining them on Facebook. They said “never did that.” So, who did?

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  2. Facebook Connect is part of the problem here. Encouraging people to enter their password on to pages linked from other Web sites is always dangerous and just encourages phishing.

    The password page needs to make it absolutely clear that it is a legit Facebook page asking for the password; relying on users to check the URL won’t work as we’re seeing.

    Image verification should help tremendously with this.

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  3. Personally I find that Twitter is way more spammed than Facebook. Twitter is the new Spam eldorado.

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  4. Need more poll choices – fairly mild for me but definitely apparent!

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  5. Because anything worth looking at is worth spamming, FB should hope to see more of this.

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  6. My email account is spammed more than my facebook account at this point in time.

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  7. lisalisatong Monday, May 25, 2009

    I personally have stopped logging into facebook because of the amount of internal spam – meaning spam from my friends! Some things are nice to see, like new kids and change of locales and other news, but there are some comments that literally waste my online time. This is why I’ve reduced my facebook visits to about once a month to check my inbox only and log out. Twitter is another place for spam as well. All these online communities with high traffic are bound to be targets for spam.

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  8. It has really became utter nuisance in the recent times. and there have been plenty of my gullible friends who has fallen victim of this outbreak. as you receive plenty of links from your trusted friends with updates/ notes / news clips /site recommendations/ applications, this phishing sites comes in quite as disguise (i mean without triggering second thought about any wrong). i personally have been more vigilant on what i click on any social networks now realizing the threat that exists in the platform. its becoming a big concern and i’m sure it will continue to grow. i will not be surprised if people start cutting back on their stay on such social sites in an effort to minimize exposure t o such risks.

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  9. Om
    You need a choice in the poll for people like me. I received 1 spam email, but I don’t use FB heavily. db

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  10. [...] Facebook is under a serious fusillade of phishing attacks. I received four Facebook messages just today. Om Malik noticed them as well. Spam? Inside a walled garden? Wow, Facebook should be able to deal with this. [...]

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