To call Facebook ‘massive’ would be an understatement: if it were a country its 500 million active members would make it the 3rd biggest in the world (behind China and India) and a staggering 250 million of these (enough to make it the 4th biggest behind the US and ahead of Indonesia) log in each day. So if you want a big market for your malware, this is the place to go!
Unsurprisingly that is exactly what people have been doing, but last month BitDefender who specialise in Internet security solutions announced the Beta launch of ‘safego’ which is a free application for Facebook focusing, surprisingly enough, on security and BitDefender have now released some of the statistics gathered by the app and they make very interesting reading.
But firstly a quick word on safego: it’s a free Facebook application that scans the user’s wall, message inbox and comments for any malicious content and then records them for people like us to look at and draw interesting conclusions from!
Up to the date that the data was released safego had 14,000 users and through them had scanned over 17 million Facebook posts, and had the interesting result that around 20% (or 1 in 5) users had infected items on their news feeds with over 60% of attacks coming from notifications from malicious third-party applications via Facebook’s developer platform.
The statistics also offered a breakdown of the six biggest third-party application threats, many of which I’m sure you’ll recognise:
- 21.5% – Applications claiming to provide functionality that Facebook does not offer such as seeing who has viewed your profile and who has removed you as a friend
- 15.4% – Applications that entice users with the promise of bonus items for Facebook games such as free items in FarmVille, MafiaWars or FishVille
- 11.2% – Applications that falsely claim to offer bonus features such as free backgrounds and “dislike buttons”.
- 7.1% – Applications that pretend to be Facebook versions of popular gaming titles such as Super Mario, The Sims or World of Warcraft
- 5.4% – Applications that attract users by claiming to give away free mobile phone
- 1.3% – Applications that supposedly offer a way to watch movies for free online
This leaves 48.1% within the ‘assorted others’ section, but that is still a fairly sizable amount of threats that fit nicely into six categories: it would seem malware developers are pretty unimaginative!
- 16.3% of worms viewed on Facebook did so through enticing users to watch some kind of shocking video such as ‘the king of pop is still alive’
- 4.6% of attacks can be connected to viruses like Koobface, where a user’s account can be hijacked and malware automatically posted on the walls of a user’s friends
So you thought Facebook was safe? Well the chances are you didn’t as these are widespread enough that everybody should know that they exist, the problem is being able to identify them and deal with them — the easiest being to completely ignore them!
If you want to participate in this then have a look on Facebook for BitDefender ‘safego’ which was launched not that long ago on 26th October and can be used to check your privacy levels and highlights any data that is visible to strangers (useful if the privacy setting confuse you!). It will also scan your wall, message inbox and comments for malicious links as well as any shared content that could be compromised.
But perhaps the big question is will we be seeing specific Facebook malware tools integrated into standard anti-malware and anti-virus software before long? The answer (given this information) is in my eyes very likely to be yes and I can imagine that we will be seeing that fairly soon; if this information is anything to go by it is certainly needed!