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Facebook Virus Using Your Pictures Warning

Message circulating on Facebook warns that a virus is using Facebook pictures as a means of hacking into computers, stealing information and destroying the infected computers.

Brief Analysis
There are no credible reports that refer to a computer security threat like the one described in this warning. Certainly, Internet criminals often do use links in bogus messages as a means of fooling recipients into downloading malware. However, there are no indications that malware or viruses are currently being distributed on Facebook in the manner reported in this warning message.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.
Update - March 2011
This virus hoax warning should not be confused with spam messages promoting a rogue Facebook application via messages that ask recipients if they have seen a photo they were tagged in. Although the hoax virus warning may, at first glance, appear to have relevance to this rogue app, it in fact has no relation whatsoever. Please review the detailed analysis below for more information.

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Last updated: 27th March 2011
First published: 20th September 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

VIRUS on FB using your pictures. It says you have been tagged in a picture, wants you to click on a link to see it, then hacks into your computer & all your accounts, including banking & other secure accounts. It destroys your computer. Once hacked into your computer, it sends ...e-mails to your friends telling them they have been tagged in pictures & starts the process again PLEASE RE-POST

VIRUS on FB using your pictures warning

Detailed Analysis
This warning message, which is currently circulating rapidly on Facebook, claims that a very dangerous "virus" is gaining access to computers via links to pictures posted on Facebook. According to the warning message, the virus spreads via messages claiming that the user has been tagged in a picture. The warning claims that, if a user clicks a link to see the picture, a virus will invade his or her computer, steal personal and financial information and send more bogus "tagged" messages to addresses found on the infected computer. The warning further claims that the virus will actually destroy the infected computer.

However, there are no credible references that verify the claims in this warning message. I could find no valid computer security warnings that report a threat like the one described. Moreover, there is no virus or malware that actually destroys the infected computer as suggested in this warning. The warning is invalid and sending it on will serve no good purpose.

Of course, Internet criminals can and do use links in bogus messages to distribute malware. Certainly, Facebook users should use due caution when following links in posts even if they appear to come from friends. Koobface and many other threats have spread via messages that attempt to trick recipients into clicking links that open sites containing trojans or other malware. In many cases, hackers are able to harvest information from computers infected in this manner. Worms or hackers may also use the infected computers to distribute bogus messages to contact addresses harvested from the compromised computers. In other cases, scammers may use Facebook posts as a means of tricking users into installing rogue Facebook applications that can raid user information and automatically distribute messages to friends listed on the compromised account. However, these factors do not provide any legitimacy whatsoever to misleading and inaccurate "virus" warnings such as this one.

It is possible that this message is a garbled and highly inaccurate warning that mutated from some previous warning about a genuine threat. It is also possible that some malicious prankster has simply made up the warning for his or her own nefarious reasons. In either case, spreading such misinformation will do nothing whatsoever to help your fellow Facebook users. In fact, spreading false security warnings is counterproductive in that it may stop users from taking heed of more genuine warnings that come their way.

Such pointless warnings are becoming more common on Facebook. In August 2010 another false virus message warned users not to click on links labelled New Gifts For You. Also in August, another hoax message that circulated via Facebook warned users not to open any message about "a girl who killed herself over something her father wrote on her wall" because the message contains a self-replicating Trojan virus. And in July 2010, a garbled and misleading message advised Facebook users to watch out for a "Trojan worm" called Knob Face.

In March 2011, posts promoting a rogue application on Facebook began circulating via Facebook chat and other means. One of these spam messages is shown below:

omg hahah have u seen this photo u got tagged in LOL -----> stum************** !

The link in this message leads to a scam rogue Facebook application that tries to trick users into participating in scam surveys. However, the "photo u got tagged in" rogue app is NOT a virus, nor will it hack your computer and steal information. And it certainly does not destroy your computer. Although the hoax virus warning may, at first glance, appear to have relevance to the rogue app, it in fact has no relation whatsoever. The rogue app does not behave in any way like the fictional virus described in the hoax message. And the hoax was circulated long before the rogue application was created. Therefore the hoax message is NOT a valid warning about the rogue app and should not be passed on as such. Passing on the hoax message has only caused confusion and misunderstanding among Facebook users.

Read more about the "Photo U Got Tagged In" rogue Facebook app.

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New Gifts For You Facebook Virus Warning
Girl Who Killed Herself Virus Warning Hoax
Knob Face Trojan Worm Warning Message

Last updated: 27th March 2011
First published: 20th September 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer