Computer security specialists warn that Facebook users have been hit with a series of data-stealing attacks in the past week as cyber crooks increasingly stalk social-networking websites.
Facebook has become prime hunting ground for tricksters and malicious software spreaders because it is the leading social-networking community, with more than 175 million people sharing personal information.
"There are so many people on social-networking sites it is becoming profitable for bad guys to go there," said David Perry, global director of education at software security firm Trend Micro.
"Bad guys can see all the things you post. You may be revealing personal information that is extremely valuable." Even seemingly innocent information posted on profile pages can sometimes provide opportunities.
For example, names of grandparents or pets in posted pictures can tip hackers off to answers for typical challenge questions asked before providing information about "forgotten passwords" to online accounts.
Hackers can try to infect software used at social-networking websites with malicious code as well as dupe people in the trust-based communities with fake messages and rigged mini-applications.
Facebook only vets mini-applications after they are released and someone complains. "We have a rogue application that happened this weekend," said Trend Micro research manager Jamz Yaneza. "It was an application that got through security at Facebook. Kudos to Facebook for shutting it down real quick."
The application seemed to be a variation of one unleashed on Facebook users last week, said Trend Micro.
Applications installed by Facebook users sent messages to their friends warning that the website was shutting down or that they had been reported for violating terms of service.
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