Researchers at security firm, BitDefender, have found that one-fifth of Facebook users are exposed to malware contained in their News Feeds. This means that by simply clicking on infected links, at least 20% of Facebook users run the risk of automatically installing a malicious program or viruses on their personal computers. Furthermore, the study, which explored data from 14,000 Facebook users, analysed 17 million Facebook posts and discovered that most viral infections on Facebook were associated with apps created by independent developers. While the vast majority of independently developed apps come with several useful features that enable users to perform extra functions such as using HTML on their Facebook pages, adding widgets and playing cool games, many times the malicious apps are disguised with various rewards and enticements to attract unsuspecting users.
Once installed, malicious programs can be used to spy on user-activity however, one of the most common uses of these programs appear to be spamming whereby messages containing promotional advertisements are sent to several contacts and friends, from a hacked/infected account. While Facebook has said they have put steps in place to identify and remove infected links, it can be quite difficult to do so more effectively due to their large user base of their network. Therefore, users need to be more vigilant and careful concerning messages, posts and links that appear in their News Feeds.
Should Facebook ban independent developers from building apps for its users as a result of the risk posed by malware?