Facebook Messenger passwords being stolen to hijack accounts in latest scam

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Facebook users are currently being targeted by a new scam that installs software onto their computers to steal sensitive information, including usernames, passwords and financial details.  This allows the account to be “hijacked”, as the accounts details are changed, effectively locking the owner out of their own account.

According to researchers, the new form of attack uses Facebook Messenger to quickly distribute “Locky “malware. Locky belongs to a family of ransomware and one of the most preferred malicious software used by hackers.

Facebook has released the following statement in response to the discovery:

“We maintain a number of automated systems to help stop harmful links and files from appearing on Facebook, and we are already blocking these ones from our platform. In our investigation, we determined that these were not, in fact, installing Locky malware—rather, they were associated with Chrome extensions. We have reported the bad browser extensions to the appropriate parties.”

The attack was discovered by Bart Blaze, a security researcher and was later confirmed by Peter Kurse, another security expert with extensive experience in investigating cyber-crimes.

To deliver the malware, a downloader called Nemucod is used that helps the ransomware bypass Facebook security by pretending to be a .svg (scalable vector graphics) image file.

The downloader is delivered through Facebook Messenger.

However, it is in fact malicious and clicking on it takes unsuspecting users to a fake version of YouTube’s website, which asks them to add a Chrome extension to their browser in order to watch a video.

Once installed, the Chrome extension has the ability to read and change all of the data on every website you visit.   At times, the Chrome extension is also used to install Nemucod downloader and it eventually leads the victim to Locky ransomware.

Invisible on the Chrome toolbar, the malicious browser add-on can steal and change information related to every website a victim visits, including login details and passwords. As an example, cyber criminals could use it to retrieve a victim’s online banking login details and harvest financial information.

At the same time, the extension hijacks the victim’s Facebook account and sends the link to all of their friends to spread the malware.
Your account may have been hacked if you notice:

  • Your email or password has been changed
  • Your name or birthday has been changed
  • Friend requests have been sent to people you don’t know
  • Messages have been sent that you didn’t write
  • Posts have been made that you didn’t create

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