David Amerland

Facebook ‘Like’ worm inevitable result of popularity of social networking site

As sure as night follows day so do Javascript exploits and malicious worms follow popular applications on websites. Facebook has become the world’s favourite hanging out place with over 500 million users worldwide and a raft of new Facebook applications which work to allow you to take your social habits with you.

One of them is the Facebook ‘Like’ button which, these days, allows you to take ‘Facebook’ with you promoting websites and commenting on them so that they appear on your Facebook profile and the news-stream which your friends see even when you are not on Facebook. That button is coded in a programming language called Javascript whose ability to run on almost any website makes it perfect for running exploits which take advantage of its accessibility and find weaknesses.

The latest of these is a worm forces users to like the page, thus spreading it inadvertently through postings on Facebook walls. The result is thousands of wall posts for a page entitled “Shocking! This girl killed herself after her dad posted this photo.” Clicking the link enclosed spreads the worm further. Unfortunately, this is not the first time we’ve heard of such an exploit, but according to Facebook Search, a lot of people have been affected by this one.

As worms go it’s fairly harmless if annoying. It does not compromise Facebook profile security nor does it scout out for passwords and login names. But annoyance is an important factor. We hang around Facebook because it is convenient and in the little time we spend online it makes sense to catch up with friends and see what’s new. If the experience begins to get tarnished then Facebook may find that its popularity begins to wane.

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