Thursday, May 1, 2008

I was the victim of a Facebook attack (and it could happen to you) - UPDATED

The night of Wednesday, April 30 was turning out to be a good night. I had just finished ended my Politics and the Internet class on a high note, with pizza, good discussion and free Google swag, and, after dropping some stuff off in my room, I was going out to celebrate a friend's birthday.

But when I got to my room, I found two of my roommates confused and wondering why I had posted particularly not work safe links on their Facebook walls. I logged on to my Facebook and found this on the walls of literally hundreds of my friends:

y0 dude, howdy ?? you wana see babes live on web cams ? i bet you want.. eheh ..
these chicks do whatever you say omg!!have a luk at [link to website removed]
I logged into my GMail account and saw that, within the previous hour and a half, I had received upwards of 30 wall posts from friends, wondering what was going on.

I had been the victim of a Facebook spamming.

Apparently, this isn't new - people have been reporting on Facebook spamming since at least last year, with other reports coming this year (there's also another scam using fake links to Facebook pages).

Based on my experience with this spam, here are some tips I have for anyone who finds themselves a victim:

1. Change your password IMMEDIATELY - according to Facebook, if this happens to you, you should "reset your password immediately. Ensure that you create a new password at least six characters long that contains numbers as well as a variety of characters and capitalization. Please also create a new password that is different than other passwords that you use on the internet." For that matter, you should change your password every couple of weeks or so for security's sake.

2. Don't click on the link and delete the wall post - duh and duh.

3. Contact Facebook - if you are a victim of spamming, or if one of your friends has "sent" you spam, send an e-mail to explaining the situation. Supposedly they'll get back to you within 24 hours - I e-mailed them last night and am hoping to hear from them today.

4. Change your profile picture and/or status - I changed my profile picture to text that basically said I had been the victim of a Facebook virus/spam and that I was sorry for all the wall posts people got. I also did the same for my Facebook status. This isn't really required, but it was a lot easier than trying to respond to 40+ wall posts and messages.

5. Take it with a grain of salt/look at the bright side -so my friends got some spam wall posts from me. None of my friends think I'm a perverted porn pusher (for the most part). In fact, a lot of the wall posts I got were: a) really nice "I'm sorry you got spammed, lets hang out soon!" messages; or b) were from people I haven't talked to in years that I am now communicating with. As bad as it may be, maybe spam messages are the new way of bringing people together on the Internet (I certainly hope not). But in any case, I suggest those that receive these messages from unwilling/unknowing friends treat them with the same kindness.

Hopefully these tips and the information above are helpful. If Facebook sends along any important information (i.e why this happened to me, or anyone for that matter), I will update when I get it, but in the meantime, beware and be safe.

UPDATE: I spoke with a friend of mine who works at ResNet, and she said that the GW e-mail network (and possibly the GW Facebook network) is incredibly infested with spam and viruses, and that affected computers are coming into ResNet by the dozens. So be careful everyone!


Anonymous said...

or maybe your friends weren't angry because they were just really really excited about seeing hot girls who were willing to do whatever on webcam?

Sarah said...

The same thing happened to a friend of mine and a friend of my sister's a few weeks ago (although their spam was for, as they say, dude growth pills). Clearly, the spammers have gotten more in tune with their audience.

In any case, that sucks that you got hacked like that.