Part of getting addicted to your smartphone is feeling a certain kind of thrill whenever it beeps to announce that you have a new private message.
Sure, there’s Viber, WhatsApp, and Telegram now, but a lot of us also rely on Facebook’s Messenger App to communicate over both the significant and the mundane, no? (Gotta love how you can send gifs to really emphasize what you’re trying to communicate, by the way.)
However, if you’re the type who goes ahead and clicks on whatever link your Facebook friends send you over Messenger, you may want to take a pause the next time you get an inbox notification.
Recently, experts have warned of a Messenger Scam that looks like a friend has sent a video link. It usually looks innocent enough, and may even be accompanied by a shocked emoji and an “Is this you?” Alternatively, the text caption might have your name followed by the word “video” and the shocked emoji as well.
Okay, so anyone who gets a message like that would probably feel compelled to click on the link (especially if there might be a Kardashian-level sex video of them out there or what, but I digress), but the disguised malware has the potential to do far worse damage to your life than any scripted reality show.
First, you’ll be taken to a website outside Facebook, such as a fake Youtube channel. This website is, of course, booby-trapped with all sorts of malicious software. Once you click on the landing page, which was set up to look like a playable video, you’ll get redirected to more websites that will enumerate your browser, operating system, and other vital information.
It’s also been known to track your keystrokes in some cases, making it easy for cyber criminals to log and store your credit card details and bank account passwords if you purchase something online after you’ve clicked on the link.
Sometimes, you might be prompted to install an app like Flash Player if you do click on the link. Do be warned that this installation link is also fake. Should you install it, the virus will then get on your browser and on your Facebook account, and then it will attempt to send the same virus to all your friends on the social media platform via the same modus operandi.
If you think you might have been infected, change your Facebook password immediately and consider opting for two-factor authentication, where you’ll need to input an access code that will be sent to your mobile phone whenever you log in.
You should also post a status message warning your FB contacts that your account may have been compromised and that they are not to open any video link that appears to be from you for the time being.
As a final precaution, comb through the apps on your account and disable or delete the ones you don’t recall installing. Deleting and reinstalling the browser you used to open the video is another option if you really want to be thorough.
And since we’re at it, why not call up your real friends and schedule a face-to-face chat over coffee? Now, that’s one interaction that’s guaranteed to be virus-free.