Malware, Network Security, Threat Management

Facebook: Is the Fawkes virus still smoldering?

Once again, Facebook is a focus for unsavory activity, but is there a change here for the worse?

The Sophos "Naked Security" blog reports that Facebook users were hit by hardcore porn, violence and animal abuse images. Not nice, and it's worrying that Sophos feels obliged to withdraw its previous advice about pornographic movies posted on Facebook walls? The world – well, Facebook – is a much less comfortable place if you can't be sure that you can see everything that others see on your wall, which now looks like a distinct possibility. In fact, I can confirm that there have been a couple of occasions where I've advised one of my own Facebook friends that there has been something on their wall that they haven't been able to see and that they clearly wouldn't have put there themselves. As the offending objects have subsequently disappeared anyway, it hasn't been possible to establish exactly what had occurred.

The Register's John Leyden, while reporting that wave of unpleasant imagery, and citing Graham Cluley's blog, has also suggested a possible connection with the Fawkes virus story I commented on a few days ago here. The Fawkes story still sounds pretty fishy to me, and Leyden certainly doesn't go as far as saying that this wave of obscenity is the work of such a virus, or even that it is the work of Anonymous.

To be honest, his conclusion is hard to argue with. To paraphrase:

There is offensive content, and it isn't certain where it's coming from, but it certainly could be malware-driven.

It could be directly connected to threats by someone who may be connected with Anonymous, though BitDefender suggests that at least some of the scams it's seeing are (as usual) profit-driven, not hacktivist. Which, I think, is perfectly correct as regards the examples cited in that blog.

But it's all a little tenuous. I'm kind of reminded of the way that Iolo Davidson once characterized virus hoaxes on alt.comp.virus. It went something like this (from memory):

“Fire! Fire! Don't know where, not sure when, but Fire! Fire!”

The difference is that we know there is something rotten in the state of Facebook right now. What we can't be sure of is its provenance. And I hate it when I can't say for sure that it has nothing to do with something my instincts tell me is probably a hoax.

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