LinkedIn, Facebook spam spreads trojans

“Malware writers are again taking advantage of LinkedIn’s popularity and users’ social media engagement after the holidays,” said Bianca Dima of security vendor Bitdefender, in a blog. “With many people back to work and eager to strengthen their professional connections, the malicious campaign comes in really handy for the attackers.”

The attackers are employing an aggressive spam campaign that sends LinkedIn mails purporting to be from potential connections, but which contain links to malicious websites that are spreading trojans and other malicious software. Also, some are phishing pages that grab visitors’ personal data to use for identity theft and fraud. The websites, Bitdefender found, are being hosted on US, UK, Russian and Italian domains.

“One website identified by Bitdefender that is spreading in fake LinkedIn spam hosted Trojan JS BlacoleRef W.,” Dima said. “Difficult to eradicate, this Trojan takes control of the device to steal credentials or credit card data. It can also hijack the user’s address book to spam contacts with dangerous attachments.”

Another site hosts no fewer than eight different trojans.

When it comes to Facebook, Java Script trojans are spreading through messages such as “Hi baby, please check my Facebook profile,” Dima said. “Scammers even use authentic pictures of international models grabbed from their social network accounts.”

According to Bitdefender, trojans account for 83% of the global malware detected in the world, and are often connected to botnets. In all, approximately 15% of the world’s computers are part of networks controlled by cybercriminals, Dima said.

She noted that aside from simply not clicking links within mails and direct messages without verifying the sender’s legitimacy, search engines such as Google also block some of the dangerous websites spreading through the LinkedIn scam because they are installing malicious software without user consent.

“The web giant’s Safe Browsing tool listed the links as suspicious and warned users that accessing them may harm their computers,” Dima noted.

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