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Bogus Hacker Warning - &#039 Between First and Second Names in Facebook Chat

Outline
Message claims that if the characters "&#039" appear between the first and second names of the friends listed in your Facebook chat, it means that they have been hacked. It further warns that if you try to chat with these hacked friends, you will also be open to attack.



Brief Analysis
The claims in the message are false. The characters "&#039"are simply the ASCII code for an apostrophe and do not indicate that a user's computer has been hacked. Moreover, you cannot get hacked just by chatting with someone.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



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Last updated: 24th March 2011
First published: 24th March 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Open ur chat window, (the list of names of all ur friends online now). If you see this: &#039 in between their 1st & 2nd name they have been hacked. If u proceed to chat with them you will also be open to attack.??

Bogus Hacker Warning - &#039 Between First and Second Names in Facebook Chat




Detailed Analysis
This rather silly hacker warning is currently moving around social network, Facebook. The message claims that the appearance of the characters "&#039" between the first and second names of friends listed in your Facebook chat window is an indication that those friends have been hacked. The "warning" further claims that you should not attempt to chat with these hacked friends because, by doing so, you will open yourself up to a hacker attack as well.

It is unclear where this foolish piece of advice originated, but you can rest assured that there is no truth to it. The characters "&#039" are simply the ASCII code for an apostrophe. ASCII is a character-encoding scheme used to represent alphanumeric and special characters in computing. ASCII uses a a seven bit binary number to represent each character.

Thus, there is nothing mysterious about "&#039" and it certainly does not indicate that a particular user's computer has been hacked. If text on a website or in a web application is rendered or interpreted incorrectly by the user's browser, it is possible that an apostrophe (') might appear as "&#039".

The message does not provide any details about what the supposed hacker is out to achieve or how he goes about compromising his victim's computers. Frankly, it seems rather illogical to suggest that this sinister hacker would advertise his conquests by making a visible change to the hacked user's name, thereby lessening his chances of finding new victims. Why would he?

Furthermore, you cannot get hacked just by chatting with someone online. Even if a hacker had taken over your friend's computer, he cannot attack you just by chatting. For a hacker to gain access to your computer or online accounts, some sort of exchange of information is necessary. For example, if you followed a link and inadvertently downloaded a trojan or other malware, the criminal may then be able to take control of your computer. Or, if you inadvertently provided your account passwords and usernames via a phishing scam or other ruse, then the hacker may well hijack your online accounts. But, even the cleverest criminal does not have the magic ability to hack you just by chatting to you.

Sending on false and misleading security warnings such as this serves no good purpose. If you see this message, please let the poster know the information is spurious. And do not repost it.

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References
HTML ASCII Characters
Wikipedia: ASCII



Last updated: 24th March 2011
First published: 24th March 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer