Computer Malware: There's a Facebook App for That

The newly-published results of the 2010 Consumer Reports State of the Net survey are interesting, to say the least. While much of the findings discuss privacy in general, one item that was glossed over stood out to me. According to the study:

Of the estimated 18.4 million adult Facebook users who used apps (games and quizzes), 38 percent were either confident apps were secure or hadn’t thought about it. Meanwhile, a projected 1.8 million computers were infected by apps obtained through one or another social network in the past year.

Nearly two million computers were infected with malware from apps on sites such as Facebook. It boggles my mind that this was glossed over. Some of the infections may consist “only” of adware or other mostly-harmless (just annoying!) junk, many of them are likely far more dangerous. Some pieces of malware will dig into your computer without your ever knowing it and then proceed to steal your information. Still other types will use your computer as a part of botnet… attacking innocent sites and people.

With the risk of becoming infected being so great these days, I would think there would be a way for sites like Facebook to regulate the apps they allow. Sure, there is a “disclaimer” whenever you add an app to your profile. However, it just seems to me that more can – and SHOULD – be done to help keep site users safe. Heck, if FB isn’t going to police these apps, at least do something to warn users more clearly about the potential dangers.

When you’re surfing around your favorite social site installing things, please make sure you’re smart about it. Check out the source of the application, and research them. Are there complaints running around the web which talk of malware being installed or found with that app? Go one step further and ASK for other opinions before you click to allow access to something new. What are others saying about that little game or quiz?

As always, make sure you keep your machine protected with proper Windows updates and security software. Trust your instincts… not your lust for the newest time-wasting game.