Facebook Increases AntiSpam Safeguards

by Christopher on August 12, 2011

Because there are no barriers to entry, spammers and scammers are free to set up Facebook accounts to spread malware and phish for valuable information. In addition, Facebook is so user-friendly, people with no internet know-how or computer savvy join and participate. This stocks the social networking site with potential targets who lack the appropriate caution and skepticism about unknown links and messages, making it a particularly appealing place for cybercriminals.

The problem is so rampant the Detroit Free Press labeled Facebook “a veritable cesspool of spam.” In recent times, spammers have tried links that allegedly identify profile stalkers, show top-secret photos of Osama bin Laden’s body, and add a dislike feature to user accounts. Spammers even resort to mimicking anti-spam measures, with new fraudulent links claiming to be a way to verify the user’s account so spam accounts can be found and deleted.

With its growing reputation as a prime hunting ground for cybercriminals, Facebook just unveiled new safeguards to protect its users. One such measure is an integration of Web of Trust. This service relies on user ratings of websites from its community to determine whether websites are trustworthy. You can look up specific sites at http://www.mywot.com, or add software to your browser to stay informed about websites while you surf the web. Now, Web of Trust technology is available as a Facebook add-on, warning users about untrustworthy links posted on the site.

Facebook also implemented new clickjacking preventions that identify links on the site that claim to go somewhere they do not. When users click such links, a warning box pops up, giving the option to cancel or confirm the click. There is also a new layer of protection for users attempting to copy a malicious link from the site into their browser’s address bar. A pop-up box warns that the URL appears to contain dangerous code.

In an attempt to cut down on hacked accounts, Facebook added an optional safeguard for when accounts are accessed from unusual locations. Users can opt in to the service, which sends a confirmation code to the mobile device attached to the account whenever someone tries to log on from an unknown computer. Internet security experts recommend signing up, which can be done through your account settings.

Remember, though, that no matter what Facebook and other social networking sites do to protect you from spammers and scammers, cybercriminals always find a workaround or new tactics. The best defense is simply common sense and a healthy skepticism.

When you’re unsure about something a friend posted, ask them if it’s legitimate before clicking. Read the comments below links before clicking, as other users often warn about malicious posts before the item is deleted. Be wary of shared links that seem uncharacteristic of a friend, or that nobody comments on even though they seem comment-worthy. Never attempt to make changes to your account through links posted on your homepage or friends’ walls. Make all such changes via your account settings and privacy settings links.

Posted in: Spam

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