None of us wants to be part of a scam that allows links to be forwarded as if from a friend, invading their privacy and endangering their sensitive information. It’s not always easy to avoid bad sites but by just being aware of the problem, you can become more adept. The following article is a summary of an original post By Rob Spiegel, E-Commerce Times.
In its on-going effort to mitigate spam activity, Facebook filed a lawsuit against a company that allegedly ran a “likejacking” operation. “We’re hopeful that this kind of pressure will deter large scale spammers and scammers,” said Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes. The state of Washington is also applying pressure, having mounted a similar lawsuit against the same company. Both suits were filed citing violation of the CAN-SPAM Act, which prohibits the sending of misleading electronic communications. Facebook and Washington state filed federal lawsuits on Thursday against Adscend Media for “clickjacking,” a form of spamming that fools users into visiting advertising sites and divulging personal information.
“Likejacking” is similar; victims are tricked into using Facebook’s Like button to spread spam. Users believe links to spam sites are being sent to them by friends, and the advertiser collects money from clients for every user misdirected. A prominent example is the indictment in California of self-proclaimed “spam king” Sanford Wallace in August, Noyes said. “Two years ago, Facebook sued him, and a U.S. court ordered him to pay a (US)$711 million judgment. Now he faces serious jail time for this illegal conduct.” Facebook also secured a $360.5 million judgment against spammer Philip Porembski, said Noyes, which “followed an $873 million spam judgment in 2008 against Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital for sending sleazy messages to our users.” The Guerbuez judgment was the largest award ever under the CAN-SPAM Act, he noted.
Clickjacking is a programming technique that employs a seemingly innocent button to trick users into visiting sites unintentionally. Likejacking is a similar technique that utilizes Facebook’s Like button. The technique is also referred to as “UI redressing.” Clickjacking is “quite well understood,” Roger Kay, founder and principal of Endpoint Technologies, told the E-Commerce Times. “It is used by both legit and illegit programs.” Both clickjacking and likejacking are designed to trick users.
“When someone browsing clicks on a site, the site can execute arbitrary code in the browser,” said Kay. “It can set a cookie, say, for Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), or do more nefarious things, like inject malware designed to call other malware later.” Clickjacking has been prevalent for years, and likejacking has become similarly entrenched. Many users of Facebook have likely experienced it in the form of a product-related message that seemed to be from a friend. “The use of the technique is widespread,” said Kay. “Consumers need to use better judgment about which links they click on.”
Links can be forwarded as if from friends, and some come-ons are pitched just right to get around the user’s suspicions he noted.”If you’re the target of a spear phish, then the attack is tailored to you,” said Kay. “So, avoiding bad sites becomes a kind of ninja art everyone must learn.”
John Sileo is an award-winning author and international speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and its polar opposite, the powerful use of trust, to achieve success. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises teams on how to multiply performance by building a culture of deep trust. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business. 1.800.258.8076.