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Bogus Warning - Adobe Flash Player Update Messages in Zynga Games are Trojans

Outline
Message circulating on Facebook warns Zinga players not to click on Adobe Flash Player Update popup messages because the messages are trojans.



Brief Analysis
The warning is inaccurate and misleading. There are no current or credible reports about a malware threat like the one described. Genuine Adobe Flash update messages will often appear when you are playing games on Facebook or other legitimate websites. While criminals do sometimes use bogus update messages to trick users into installing malware, this warning does not describe such an attack and has no validity.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 1st February 2012
First published: 1st February 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
Research by Brett Christensen and David White
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
WARNING WARNING WARNING JUST RECEIVED A MESSAGE PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE READ !!

WARNING to all: If you get an Adobe Flash Player Update message that pops up when you click on Zynga games (mafia, farm, poker HC etc) - DO NOT RUN IT....it is a Trojan and it looks very authentic..!!!! Forward on...ty

Zynga Adobe Update Warning




Detailed Analysis
Yet another breathless, ALL CAPS "security warning" is currently rocketing around Facebook. According to the warning, if you are playing a Zynga game and receive a popup message asking you to update your Adobe Flash Player, you should avoid running it because it is a trojan.

However, the warning is inaccurate and misleading. There are no current or credible reports about a malware threat like the one described.

In fact, Adobe Flash update messages will often appear when you are playing games on Facebook or other legitimate websites. The messages are exactly what they appear to be and are not in any way malicious. Zynga games may encounter various problems if Adobe Flash has not been updated to the most current version. Thus, it is important that players take heed of these legitimate messages and update as suggested.

According to a recent blog post on Mafia Wars dedicated website Mafia Wars and Pimping, the message may have been derived from undue player concerns about a legitimate in-game Adobe Flash Player Setting popup that asks users to give permission for a domain used by Zinga to store information on the user's computer. This is simply one of Adobe Flash Player's normal settings and can be easily controlled by the user. It is certainly not a trojan or a virus and is not a security threat.

Thus, reposting this ill-founded warning will not only cause undue concern among Zinga enthusiasts, but may also cause players to ignore legitimate and necessary Flash updates or settings options. If you receive this message, please do not repost it to others.

However, while the above warning is invalid, it should be noted that, in the past, criminals have indeed used bogus Flash update messages and emails as vectors for tricking users into installing malware. If a message asks you to leave the site you are playing on by following a link to an untrusted third party website in order to download the supposed update, then it could well be malicious. Criminals have also distributed malware by sending fake update messages for other types of software, including the Windows operating system. While this criminal tactic gives no validity to the above false warning, users should nevertheless be cautious of following any links in "update" messages that take them to an unknown third party website.

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References
Not A Virus or Trojan : this time! ok?
Bogus Windows Firewall and Security Center Update Email Links To Malware



Last updated: 1st February 2012
First published: 1st February 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
Research by Brett Christensen and David White
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer