We’ve been focusing a lot on different types of scams recently, and for good reason. Hackers and scam artists have been ramping up their efforts to get us while we’re not paying attention.
One of the latest methods scam artists catch us with our guard down is through Facebook chat.
You know it — the little box at the bottom of your Facebook page that tells you how many friends are currently available for chat. You might even get a “Hello” from a friend every once in awhile. Others rely heavily on FB Chat to communicate with coworkers, spouses, or long-distance friends.
It’s a great tool, no doubt about it. But as with many good things, someone has gone and twisted it to fit their fiendish purposes. Here’s the scoop:
You get a chat message from [insert friend name here]. This could be your boss, your teenage daughter, your workout partner, or that random guy from high school who you accepted as a friend despite your better judgment.
The friendly popup box asks how you are doing, what you’ve been up to, or another generic nicety.
Whether you respond or not (you don’t have to be on the computer at the time … the messages will still show up the next time you log in), the “friend” will ask you to take some sort of action by clicking a link: “See what you get on this quiz that I just took.” “Check out this video, you will not believe it!” “I just scored a Free iPad! Go check it out.”
You trust the message because it is from a friend (unless it is that random guy from high school) and you click the link.
You get infected, your computer starts doing crazy things, and you inadvertently start sending unwanted messages to friends on your list.
If you act reasonably, you should be able to avoid any unwanted consequences. Keep the following in mind:
Merely chatting won’t infect you, but clicking on a link you’re not sure about probably will. Don’t click on a link that looks or seems suspicious … and just avoid the temptation to take online quizzes!
Most of these chat messages come from bots, not actual humans. If you try to carry on the conversation, they likely won’t respond. Just ask a few simple questions to determine if the person is actually there. If you get a chat message while you’re away, don’t click the link. If it’s that important, they’ll send it again.
If you go by a shortened version of your name (i.e. Joe for Joseph), be wary of anyone calling you by your full name. That is a telltale sign that a computer is doing the talking.
If you need help protecting your computer from viruses or spyware, give Computer Problem Specialists a call at (928) 468-0000 for a free security analysis.
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.