New analysis by security firm Commtouch has identified scams related to affiliate marketing as the most wide-spread type of fraud on Facebook, accounting for two thirds of this sort of malicious activity carried out across the social network. Scammers exploit regular businesses that finance affiliate marketing campaigns by tricking Facebook users into filling out paid surveys, offering some sort of non-existent incentive in return. Account hijacking is another common way used to reach out to potential victims.
Digging in further, Commtouch found that about 52 percent of users who spread these scams have been exposed to some sort of malicious software: likejacking, rogue apps and malware for the most part. The other portions of unknowing distributors do so willingly, believing they are offered a genuine opportunity.
“Facebook scammers are out to make money, and affiliate marketing is a rich source,” said Amir Lev, Commtouch’s chief technology officer. “The same social engineering techniques that malware distributors and spammers have been using for years to induce people to open their unwanted mail or click on malicious links are being leveraged within Facebook and other popular social networks for ill-gotten gains.”
Security and privacy have been a big issue for Facebook in 2011. Most recently, the EU decided the targeted advertising on the site may be too intrusive, and is prepping to take steps in order to prohibit Facebook from enabling this sort of marketing without the user’s permission.
These topics have been a concern for the IT industry as a whole, and for quite some time now. This will continue to be the case as we head into 2012. Mobile is one area in particular to lookout for, with researchers expecting a rise in Cybersecurity threats and increased awareness about the harmful potential of geolocation technology, among other things.