Facebook is a popular social media platform where you can form many connections in the virtual world. It is one of the easy-to-use platforms where you can connect with your old friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Besides connecting with people, you can join groups about topics of your interest. As Facebook is used by millions of people around the globe, it is also an easy target for many scams. Attackers or hackers target users on Facebook for stealing their personal information or introducing malware into the system. One such recent scam is malicious tagging.
Malicious tagging is a method by which attackers can send virus or malware to the system. The malware is hidden behind a post that may seem absolutely normal. As the malware appears to be a part of a common post sent by a friend or someone in your network, you may not suspect it at first. If you end up clicking on the click, it may send suspicious content or malware to your computer. It can also cause many uncertain issues to your system, network, and important files.
As a result, malicious tagging has been able to reach a wide audience on Facebook. Attackers use a platform like Facebook as it has a wide web of connections. By gaining access to one contact, it can easily spread to several others.
How does malicious tagging work?
Malicious tagging appears in your notification. Here, you get a notification stating that a friend or someone who knows has tagged you in a post. When you go to the post, you would notice a video or a message with a relatable message. You would also see that the friend has tagged many of your common friends in the same post. As it is sent by someone you know, you may click it easily. Until this point, you may not suspect anything as the post would appear like any other usual one.
The video may have an interesting topic that can capture your attention. Most scammers ensure to use a topic that can appeal to a mass audience. With interesting topics and eye-catching titles, they can gather maximum attention. A malicious tagging works only after someone has clicked on the video or post. Hence, they work towards creating a good post with an appealing subject.
When you click on the video, it would take you to some other website. It may send a message stating that you need to update your Flash player in order to watch the complete video. Sometimes, it may state that you need to download certain files or perform few activities to continue. By this method the malware is able to spread the virus into your system. It may hunt for personal details such as login password, name, address, phone number or any other identifying information. It can easily steal your personal identity and use the information for banking or other sensitive websites. The malware can also self-replicate by creating a similar post from your account and tagging some of your friends to continue the chain.
Comment tagging malware
Besides the malicious tagging on posts and videos, the attacker can send malware through comments. In this type, you may receive a notification from a friend stating that you are tagged in a comment. You would also see many similar names of mutual friends in the comment section. The comment would take you to an interesting post with an exciting topic. Usually, scammers pick something that can appeal to many people at the same time. They may also choose topics that may seem most relevant with respect to current news or an entertainment gossip.
After clicking on the post, the malware is automatically downloaded to your system. When you click a certain image or video, the malware can start performing its actions. Such kind of comment tagging malware is one of the most common scams on Facebook. Once again, it makes use of attractive topics and tags many people at the same time. This makes it appear as normal as the other posts.
How to protect yourself from malicious tagging?
While it is impossible to avoid malicious tagging, you can take important steps to prevent yourself from the harmful effects. It is necessary to know the latest news about common types of Facebook scams and keep an open eye. You can also avoid any links or posts from unknown sources.
1. Before clicking on a link, you must check the domain and website information. You should avoid downloading any file or program. As malware intends to copy your information after forcing you to download a file into your system, you must not allow any downloads.
2. If you receive notification about a post where many people are tagged and it appears suspicious, you must remove yourself from the tag. Even if the post appears normal with an interesting topic, you must avoid it after seeing the multiple tags. Scammers use the tactic of involving multiple people on the same post.
3. If you feel a particular post appears suspicious with all the probable signals of being a scam, you can report it as scam. Facebook can check the complaints and block such scams as soon as possible.
Avoiding malicious posts
4. Stay away from posts that sound too good to be true. Attractive titles like ‘How to earn millions without a regular job’ or ‘Easy ways to become a millionaire’ or ‘Surprising facts about becoming rich’ can attract maximum users. The malware is hidden in such posts as scammers can be aware about the popularity of these topics.
5. Do not trust all the posts from a friend or a mutual friend. Many times, your friend may be unaware of the suspicious post and may not realize that the tags are from their profile. In such cases, it is best to avoid the links and posts. If you doubt about the particular post, you can send out a message and confirm with the friend.
6. If you spot a particular scam such as malicious tagging or comment tagging, you can let your friends know and make them aware. By spreading information, your friends can protect themselves from spreading the malware to more people.
7. Log out of Facebook if you use public Wi-Fi connection. Also, change passwords on a regular basis. You can set a two-factor authentication such as an access code sent to your phone number or email address.
It is necessary to be careful and aware about issues such as malicious tagging. As scammers target unsuspecting victims, they may steal a lot of valuable information.
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