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‘Major Hack’ Facebook Virus Warning Message

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Circulating Facebook message describes a ‘major hack’ that is spreading a virus via private Facebook messages. The message warns users not to open attachments claiming to contain images in a .zip file. 

Brief Analysis

The attack described is real, although details are currently sketchy. The text of the messages and the name of the malicious attachment vary considerably. It appears that the messages are being sent either from compromised Facebook accounts or from fake accounts set up by scammers. Either way, users should not open attached .zip files in these bogus messages. The attachments contain malware. As noted in the warning, users should be very cautious of messages that invite you to view pictures in an attached file, even if the messages appear to come from friends.

Example

There is a major HACK going on affecting several people. It sends a private message to your facebook. Ignore any and all PM’s (chat box) telling you about a pic or pics.  I have not sent pictures to anyone, nor have I posted them to anyone. These messages have a zip file attached to them. DO NOT OPEN IT!! Copy and paste this to your facebook as well to spread the word that no one should open this file. It is a virus…..

 

Detailed Analysis

According to a warning message that is going viral on Facebook, a “major hack” is currently occurring on the network. The message warns users to watch out for private messages claiming that recipients can view images by opening an attached .zip file. The warning advises users not to open these attachments because they contain a virus.

The threat described is real and has been reported by a number of Facebook users.  The exact mechanism by which the bogus messages are delivered is currently unclear. The messages may originate from Facebook accounts hijacked via phishing attacks. Or, they may come from fake accounts set up by criminals with the purpose of sending scam and spam messages. 
However, the messages are certainly malicious. A reader who has tested the malware payload of the .zip file notes that it is a JAVA executable file that, when run, will create a temp file called BACKDOOR.BOT, place an executable in the browser’s cache and place an executable in the Facebook cache.   As shown in the following examples, the text and attachment names of the malware messages vary considerably:

someone made a profile named “Luca Pelliciari” and he uploaded some of your photos! is that you?
IMG_9755.zip

ha ha ha OMG take a look at Mairy’s pic …omg
IMG_67519.zip

do you know her? She is uploading some of  your photos!!!           
IMG_57557.zip

someone made a profile named “ Amirilia Tully’” and he uploaded some of your photos! is that you?
IMG_88574.zip

There are apparently several more variants of the scam messages.

Thus, the advice in the warning message to avoid opening the attachments that come with these messages is worth heeding. Be wary of any Facebook message that suggests that you open an attached file to view images. The best course of action is simply to delete these messages. If they appear to come from someone on your friend’s list, you should let them know that their account may have been compromised.

If you have inadvertently installed the malware by opening the attachment, you may need to scan for malware using a reliable anti-malware program such as Malware Bytes.  You may also need to remove any scam messages that have been posted on your Facebook profile or newsfeed and warn your Facebook friends about the attack.

Such scam campaigns are quite common. This threat uses similar tactics to a 2012 Facebook phishing campaign in which users were instructed to click a link to view an image. The link opened a bogus site that tried to trick users into giving their Facebook login details to criminals. 

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer