Facebook users targeted in massive spam run

The messages try to get users to dowload a malicious attachment

Facebook's 400 million users have been targeted by a spam run that could infect their computers with malicious software designed to steals passwords and other data, according to security researchers at McAfee.

Over the last two days, millions of messages have been sent, which McAfee detected through customers running the company's security software, said Dave Marcus, McAfee's director of security research and communication.

The messages appear to come from Facebook, with a return address that looks legitimate but has been spoofed, such as "help@facebook.com," Marcus said.

The messages say that the user's Facebook password has been reset and the user should download an attachment that contains the new password. The English-language messages are grammatically correct, but contain an odd sign-off: "Thanks, Your Facebook." McAfee has included a screenshot on its blog.

The attachment is actually a Trojan horse program, which infects a computer without any visible signs. Marcus said the spam run contained a variety of malware programs, including password stealers, rogue antivirus programs or botnet code.

No Web site would automatically reset someone's password and send the new one in an e-mail, Marcus said. Facebook's high number of users makes it a prime target for spammers and hackers.

"There's a huge victim pool to go after," Marcus said.

Although it's unknown how many people may have been inadvertently duped, "I'd assume a lot of people would fall for something like that," Marcus said.

The spam is believed to have been sent from botnets called Cutwail and Rustock. Botnets are groups of computers that are controlled by hackers and often used for malicious activity such as sending spam or conducting denial-of-service attacks against Web sites.

Security analysts have been experimenting with different ways to shut down botnets. Over the last few weeks, two botnets called Mariposa and Waledac were shut down after security experts were able to commandeer the command-and-control servers used to communicate with infected computers.

But botnets have become more and more sophisticated and harder to combat. Many computer users don't even know their computers are infected, and the botnet code is engineered to avoid detection by antivirus programs.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwareFacebookspammcafee

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Taking cybersecurity to the highest level and order now for a special discount on the world’s most awarded and trusted cybersecurity. Be aware without a care!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?