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article imageFacebook users often unable to tell real from fraudulent links

By Nate Smith     Nov 7, 2014 in Internet
An exhaustive, multi-year study of malware and phishing scams present on Facebook reveals that users often have a hard time distinguishing between real Facebook links and harmful viruses.
Anti-virus company Bitdefender commissioned a group of physiologists and human behavior specialists to compile a report on which scams are the most popular, and which users are generally most likely to fall prey to an Internet scam.
Some 850,000 different fraudulent links were reviewed over a two-year period in countries that included not just the United States, but also the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Spain and France.
Researchers classified assorted scams into five categories including: Guess who viewed your profile (45.5 percent); Facebook functionality scams like "changing one's background color" (29.53 percent); giveaway scams (16.51 percent); celebrity scandals such as purported sex tapes (7.53 percent); and atrocity videos (0.93 percent)
Criminals make money from their fraud victims by collecting banking or other persoanal information like browser passwords, and other data.
Regarding the profile viewer scam, researchers warn, "there is also an additional element helping hackers to trick millions of users ever year. The 'profile viewer' message is customized, touching them on a personal level."
The study does delve into the psychology of those most inclined to fall prey to such a thing, however, it stops well short of issuing any hard-line assertions about which people are most likely to be tricked.
"The biggest vulnerabilities appear because of general human dispositions that may hit any user at one point in his life," reads the report.
"Of course, it is hard to acknowledge, even towards ourselves, that we may have irrational behaviors or that we are blindly indulging in impulses we typically attribute to the less educated or the less informed."
Just had your heart broken? The study does suggest then those just out of a relationship are more likely to fall victim to a scam.
"Independent research shows over 90 per cent of those who have just ended a relationship are still checking their former partner’s activity on social networks," according to the whitepaper.
"This natural reaction was frequent even before the social media era, being justified by people’s reciprocal wish to see if their ex still cares about them."
Though celebrity scams and "atrocity" videos that purport to show awe-striking tragedy or violence are lowest on the list currently, they are emerging scams, researchers warn.
Those latter scams tend to affect children and teenagers the most, according to the report.
More about Facebook, Scams, Fraud, Psychology, Social media
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