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Ways To Protect Yourself Online

November 19, 2011 by staff 

Ways To Protect Yourself Online, Many Facebook users were surprised to find graphic prnographic and violent images in their news feeds this week, following a widespread spam attack. The company said that it now has the issue under control.

The company cited a “browser vulnerability” that allowed hackers to post the images to users accounts. Judging from Facebook’s statement, however, the heart of the problem is that people were somehow tricked into copying and pasting a line of malicious code into their browser bars.

Facebook said that it has identified the hackers and is working harder to educate its users even as it strengthens its own systems. Here are some details of the attack and what you can do to protect yourself.

What happened?: Facebook hasn’t been particularly forthcoming with the details, saying only that a spam attack essentially tricked users into sharing the offensive images without their knowledge. The attack also apparently exploited the “browser vulnerability” that appears to have helped the attack spread more widely.

In the past, scammers have used this sort of trick by offering fake gift cards or discounts, said Chester Wisniewski of the security firm Sophos. Scammers tell customers they can get the deal by pasting a line of code into their browser bars. That code often hides a line of programming that lets hackers unlock that user’s profile.

Most of the time hackers use this method for their own ends, often to get users to go to fraudulent sites. Wisniewski said the strange thing about this attack is that it doesn’t seem to be generating any sort of benefit for the scammers other than generating outrage from Facebook users.

What is Facebook doing?: Facebook said Tuesday that it has working on its back-end to stop the spam attack and has the situation mostly under control. In a Wednesday statement, the company also said that it has identified the hackers and is working with its legal department to pursue them.

The company is also setting up “educational checkpoints” to make sure that users know how to identify potential scams.

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