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AVG Sees Increase In Use Of Rogue Facebook Applications

AVG UK And Ireland : 19 May, 2010  (Technical Article)
Advice offered in addition to free anti-virus software to combat the rising trend in the use of rogue applications to entice Facebook users to malware and adware sites
AVG Technologies, developers of free anti-virus software, has revealed research into a very aggressive, expansive push by rogue applications on Facebook this past weekend. AVG researchers indicated that from midnight to 9am EST on Saturday, May 15, 2010, AVG software detected and blocked more than three hundred thousand rogue applications. That rate was more than three times the rate of the number two for the day for rogue anti-spyware.

"This latest issue really underscores how powerful, while at the same time vulnerable, social networking applications are. This attack was actually stunning in terms of scale," said Roger Thompson, AVG's Chief Research Officer. "Facebook is very responsive to threats when we identify them, and removing these applications as soon as they find them, but they're still able to generate huge traffic, just because of the viral nature of social networks. It is staggering how many threats were propagated before they were stopped."

Ironically, the attack, which offers a picture of a girl in a bikini to entice the victim to install an adware-supported viewer, was not viral according to AVG researchers, and was first seen in different forms last week. AVG's malware detection servers are set to alert the research team when certain nefarious behaviors and activities are detected. By 9 a.m. EST, AVG's servers had detected more than 200,000 of this particular threat. By comparison, the second highest detection at that same time was about twenty-four thousand of a particular rogue anti-spy, so at one point, this push was nearly ten times the number two detection.

Last week's rogue push peaked at about 80,000 for the day, and had dwindled to just a couple of hundred per day by Friday, May 14, 2010. At that point AVG researchers were hopeful that the adware attack would cease; however, all indications point to the fact that they were just gearing up for a fresh start… and a powerful one at that.

Thompson added, "Interestingly, they launched it on a Saturday. I guess they figure we don't watch on the weekend, but malcode researchers are all cut from the same cloth as Inspector Gadget… we're always on duty."

AVG recognizes the power that social networking brings to our professional and personal lives and does not advocate giving up on the technology altogether. However, AVG does have some recommendations on how to best protect yourself:

1 Make sure you practice safe surfing. AVG LinkScanner is a free web tool that can identify threats in real-time and let you know if a page or link is poisoned, before you click.

2 If you ever have to install a viewer to watch a video, something is probably not right. Go to the video player application's official website and download the application there. Never download through a link.

3 Make sure your anti-virus and security software is up to date. If you don't have anti-virus software, you can download AVG Free.
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