'Beware Hack Scam Rollercoaster Clip' Facebook Warning Message
OutlineCirculating Facebook message warns users about a "hack scam" delivered via a video clip depicting a woman falling from a rollercoaster ride. The message warns that the clip is a virus that will "eat all your info".
Brief AnalysisThe "rollercoaster" threat described is a typical survey scam, not a virus. And while some incarnations of such scams may attempt to trick users into installing rogue apps or malware, it will not "eat all your info" as claimed. This breathless, ALL CAPS message does not adequately warn users about the type of threat it attempts to describe and sharing it may be counterproductive.
According to a breathless ALL CAPS "warning" that is currently rocketing around Facebook, users should watch out for a new "hack scam" that will "eat all your info". The message claims that this dangerous "viruse" is being distributed via a video clip featuring a terrifying fall from a rollercoaster ride.
In fact, there is currently a threat being distributed that tries to entice users into clicking a link by promising footage of the "most terrifying accident ever" involving a woman falling from a rollercoaster ride.
However, the above message does not adequately or accurately describe the threat it is attempting to warn users about and may be counterproductive in its current form.
The "rollercoaster video" threat the message is trying to describe is a survey scam, not a virus. It is just one in a series of recent Facebook survey scams that try to entice users into sharing bogus material and participating in suspect online surveys. The scams promise video footage of such things as fatal car accidents, giant snakes, and shark attacks as a means of tricking users into clicking a link.
The purpose of these survey scams is to fool users into engaging in various online surveys or offers, thereby earning the perpetrators income via dodgy affiliate marketing schemes. Participants never get to see the promised videos. But, these survey scams do not hack your computer and they certainly do not wipe your hard-drive as suggested in this warning message.
Of course, some survey scams might also try to trick users into installing rogue apps, malicious browser extensions, or other types of malware during the course of the scam.
However, even in these cases, the malware is designed to spam out more of the fake messages or allow criminals to steal information from the infected computer. This malware is not likely to be designed to delete information from your computer. The criminals want access to your information; they do not want to delete it.
It is important that any computer security warning messages contain accurate and current information. Threats need to be described accurately and sensibly so that users can safely and effectively respond should the threat come their way. Mislabelling a threat as a virus or a hack when it is neither may cause confusion among users and lead to inadequate or ineffective responses to the threat. For example, users who click on links in such survey scam messages may think that their antivirus software will protect them and still end up being dragged into a morass of bogus online surveys. Or, if they have installed a rogue Facebook application via such a survey scam, they may mistakenly believe that the "virus" will be removed by performing an anti-virus or anti-malware scan.
Moreover, due to the over-the-top, ALL CAPS rendering of the message, many users will likely dismiss it as just another fake warning and take no heed of the advice it attempts to provide.
Thus, although the advice in the message not to click links in the rollercoaster accident message are worth heeding, it nevertheless fails as a security warning and should not be shared in its current form.
For the record, the teaser image used in the rollercoaster survey scam message - which ironically does not even depict a rollercoaster accident - is itself fake and has circulated in various other contexts for many months.
Last updated:January 5, 2014
First published: January 5, 2014
By Brett M. Christensen
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