A new survey shows that Facebook scams playing into people’s voyeuristic and baser impulses are very effective, showing that many users remain easy targets of social networking malware.
Topping the list of scams in the survey by Internet security company BitDefender are so-called “stalker” offers, such as promises to let users see who has viewed their profile — something that isn’t possible on Facebook.
“According to our statistics, stalker-like scams have collected approximately one and a half million clicks per wave,” said George Petro, BitDefender’s threat intelligence team leader. He says that is probably why the scams are often cloned on other social networks, like Twitter.
Offers of free games, porn and other “shocking” images are also among the most successful.
As people concentrate more personal information in social networking profiles, scams become more damaging, especially as social profiles are increasingly integrated with mobile devices that carry still more personal and financial. While socially propagated malware still primarily targets computers, mobile malware is on the rise and increased mobile access to social networks will turn smartphone into tempting targets.
Facebook insists that protecting users from scams is a top priority. “We have a large team of professional investigators who quickly remove these when we detect them or when they’re reported to us by our user,” said a spokesman.
But the survey, like similar ones last week from the antivirus firm Sopho and the security company Dasient, shows there is still a long way to go before users are completely protected.
The BitDefender survey of 2,700 Facebook users aged from 18 to 65 suggests the spread of malware could be more easily contained if people were only a little friendlier to their Facebook “friends.” A massive 87 percent of users have noticed suspicious activity on their friends’ news feeds, but about 57 percent did nothing about it — mainly because they might have been responsible for clicking the link that helped spread the infection in the first place.