Facebook scams are beginning to become a real nuisance. Most of them don’t do much real damage, other than causing some embarrassment, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t annoying. Most scams simply blast the same message that fooled you to all your friends, which helps them in going viral. Some of them might also ask you to fill surveys that profit the scammer. However, only a very few try to distribute malware or spread phishing campaigns.
What makes these scams so effective is the fact that they are fairly hard to spot. Most people implicitly trust anything posted on their wall by their friends. Moreover, it is often hard for people to resist clicking on links promising leaked videos of Bin Laden’s death or the last words of a recently dead celebrity. Facebook scams prey on people’s gullibility and curiosity to get the better of them.
A new Facebook app called MyPageKeeper promises to protect you from Facebook scams. It does so by monitoring your news feed, wall posts, and installed apps. It doesn’t say exactly how it detects a piece of content as spam, but it’s most likely that MyPageKeeper is simply database driven.
Two Ph.D. students in computer science at the Bourns College of Engineering teamed up with StopTheHacker, a web protection service founded in 2009 by Anirban Banerjee, who received his Ph.D. in 2008 from UC Riverside, and Michalis Faloutsos, a professor of computer science and engineering at the university, to create MyPageKeeper.
“Facebook is the new web,said Rahman. It provides a fertile ground to spread malware, since users trust links and posts that are seemingly from their friends. Hackers have realized this, and they have started using it to distribute malware and conduct identity theft.
MyPageKeeper is free to use, and getting started is as simple as installing the Facebook application. It’s designed to work automatically, and proactively. Once you enable it, you don’t need to tinker with it further. However, if you like to tinker with things, then there are a few options that you can tweak. You can specify how aggressive you want MyPageKeeper to be. Obviously, being more aggressive runs the risk of generating more false positives. You can also change how you want the app to notify you about malicious content spotted in your profile.
Faloutsos, who has studied web security for 15 years, believes web security is following the same trajectory as desktop security. Ten years back, people weren’t serious about desktop security, but now almost everyone has an antimalware product installed on their system. Today, most people don’t realize the importance of staying cautious on the web, but in the coming years, Faloutsos believes that everyone will realize the importance of web security. People are educated about e-mail spam,says Faloutsos. But, now there is an implicit trust, almost validation, when someone sees a post from a friend on Facebook.
You can install this Facebook application from MyPageKeeper.org.
[Hat tip to @sreeyesh for recommending this app]