Use Facebook on a Windows computer? Watch out for a dangerous Trojan virus that can empty your bank account. An old malware cyber threat known as “Zeus” has resurfaced on social media to target Facebook users with fake Fan pages and fraudulent links.
If you think Facebook is a safe haven where malware and viruses don’t exist, you might want think again. The “Zeus” Trojan virus is rampaging through the pages of Facebook. What’s even worse is that the malware has been circulating since 2007.
Is your online bank account safe? Read on to find out more about the Zeus virus going around on Facebook, and how you can make sure that you’re protecting your identity when using social media.
The Zeus Virus Is Nothing New
One of the most alarming facts about the Zeus virus is how long it’s been active on Facebook. The social network insists that it is constantly screening its profiles and pages for malware in a very active way.
When contacted about the Zeus virus, Facebook indicated that users could visit certain resources to have their computers screened for malware.
Since its inception six years ago, the Zeus Trojan has gone on to infect millions of computers. The virus has been most closely linked with Russian cyber criminals, but the majority of its victims have been social media users in the United states.
Efforts at combating this type of malware are clearly failing, as online security firms have been noticing more and more social media viruses showing up on the Internet recently. The New York Times offers a little more info:
“According to researchers at security firm Trend Micro, incidents of Zeus have risen steadily this year and peaked in May.”
How the Zeus Trojan on Facebook Robs You Blind
The Zeus Trojan on Facebook is also disturbing because it’s an especially tricky virus. It’s a Trojan horse virus, which means that it’s a non-replicating type of malware. (Most viruses are “self-replicating” programs which means that they continue to duplicate themselves and spread to other machines.)
Trojan horse viruses disguise themselves as something beneficial or desirable. When clicked, however, they secretly install themselves on the user’s computer and wreak havoc behind the scenes. Trojan viruses can steal your password or grant hackers access to your system.
The Zeus virus takes this to another level: it can literally steal your money.
Once it makes its way onto a computer, Zeus essentially lies in wait until the user accesses a bank website. When this happens, Zeus gets to work. It gains access to bank accounts by stealing passwords when users log in, then it sets about draining those accounts.
In some cases, it even tricks users with fake bank websites. This allows it to steal other information, like Social Security numbers. These are then sold on the black market to identity thieves and other criminals.
How to Avoid the Zeus Virus on Facebook
A smart policy to adapt for Facebook in general is to avoid suspicious pages.
As it turns out, Zeus has been making its way onto many users’ machines by impersonating Facebook Fan pages. NFL Fan pages in particular are very popular hosts for the Zeus virus, including one called “Bring the NFL to Los Angeles.”
As is often the case with scams on the Internet, remember that if it looks suspicious, it probably is. Don’t click links that seem out of place, poorly put-together, or contain obvious spelling and/or grammatical errors.
Fake websites run by scammers are often very low quality compared to legitimate professional sites. Always keep antivirus software up-to-date and installed on your computer and be sure to connect to the Internet through a secure web connection whenever you’re banking online or sending other secure information.
Do you have any tips for avoiding malware on Facebook or otherwise? Share with us in the comments.
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FACEBOOK does nothing when persons post libel, racist, and malicious material. My son was the target of one such person. The police actually got involved and contacted the legal department at Facebook. In the meantime, the vicious post is still on this person’s Facebook page. She got away with it because she established false aliases and posts under their name now. Disgusting. Have no use for Facebook and never did.
I started to fall for this on my Bank of America site. It really looked legit, so I started to enter information, even my SSN, but never hit submit. Could I be victim, or would I needed to have hit submit?
Hi Jeff — there’s no way to tell for sure, from our end. I would call up your bank immediately. The first thing you can do is ask them about any activity there might have been recently. Check out your records, too. If there are any transactions that you didn’t actually make, I’d get in touch with BofA and tell them what happened.
Even if there hasn’t been any fraudulent activity on your account, it’d be a smart idea to tell BofA exactly what happened. This way, they can monitor your account, and catch anything suspicious as soon as it happens.
Similarly, you can call up a service such as LifeLock — for $25 they’ll make sure that your SSN or other personal information wasn’t stolen. (Also, your bank might very well have something that’ll do this for you. I have Wells Fargo, myself. Their Identity Protection package is VERY robust and it’s only about $16 a year, I believe.)
Hope that helps, and good luck!
Thanks. I might just freeze my credit to be safe.
Not a problem, Jeff. Might not be a bad idea. Good luck to you!
Just froze my credit (I asked one of the bureaus if there was any recent activity and she said no, so that’s a good sign; will check again in a couple of months). I of course cancelled my BoA cards and changed my passwords/questions. I really appreciate your help.
Glad you got it taken care of, Jeff. That’s what we’re here for!