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Things to know about Facebook porn malware and how to protect yourself

tech Updated: Jun 13, 2015 10:22 IST
Siladitya Ray
Adobe Flash Player

Facebook-is-testing-an-expanded-marketplace-for-users-to-view-more-easily-items-for-sale-across-public-groups-Photo-AFP

Facebook users across India have been hit by a malware that leads to pornographic images and videos appearing on the newsfeeds and timelines of their pages.

The malicious software is apparently present in a link to a video that has been shared on users' timeline over the past few days. The video appears with a headline "Watch urgent, because it is your video'. Clicking on the link asks users to download a file, which is the suspected malware.

The malware then stealthily installs an extension on the Chrome web browser.

The message contained a link to a malicious website that allegedly shows up as an Amazon Web Services page.

The malware creeping across India is not new. The same malware had affected around 110,000 users across the world in January . Back then, the malware had disguised itself as a porn link that prompted users to download a Flash update.

Once a user is infected, the malware starts posting porn links to the person's Facebook page and tagging up to 20 friends at a time. Unlike blasting messages, this technique enables the malware to keep a low profile, while displaying itself publicly on the user's profile.

Facebook's official statement

Facebook has reacted to the development by reissuing a statement originally sent out in January about the malware.

“We use a number of automated systems to identify potentially harmful links and stop them from spreading. In this case, we’re aware of this malware variety, which is typically hosted as browser extensions and distributed using links on social media sites. We are blocking links to these scams, offering clean-up options, and pursuing additional measures to ensure that people continue to have a safe experience on Facebook,” the statement said.

How to protect yourself

Rule number one: Don't click on any porn links on Facebook, it's a terrible idea. Porn is an excellent trojan horse and most unassuming users might think there's no harm but this guarantees that the user will be infected.

Rule number two: Flash Player is a essential piece of software that allows users to watch video and other interactive elements online. Flash is also extremely vulnerable to malware, and users should ensure that they download regular updates to Flash Player from Adobe's official website .

Rule number three: Users should exercise great care when they give apps permission to access their Facebook information. They should disable permissions to any app that they do not use any more.