Even though the year 2016 is coming to a close, the malware threat is far from over. In fact, the final weeks of the year may prove to be quite problematic for the average Internet user. A new type of malware has been identified which uses images on LinkedIn and Facebook to hijack a computer. Once that step has been completed, the user will be infected with ransomware, demanding a Bitcoin payment.
Social Networks Are A Threat To Computer Users
People may have noticed how social networks are becoming far more insecure than ever before. With the number of people using this platform ever increasing, it is not unlikely that some people will use nefarious tactics. After all, platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook open the door to a worldwide audience, or in the case of online criminals, the world is their oyster to crack.
The new malware discovered by security researchers is causing a lot of justified concern. Instead of directly attacking computers through the operating system or browser, this malicious code hides within images posted on social media platforms. Once a user opens this image, the Locky ransomware payload is downloaded to their computer.
Both Facebook and LinkedIn are quite flawed in their approach towards handling images. Both platforms are vulnerable to an exploit that lets users download a maliciously coded file, which in turn hijacks the user’s computer. Not opening the file is the best course of action, but most people tend to do so regardless. After all, the payload is distributed in such an inconspicuous manner that very few people will even consider it to be a threat.
Both Facebook and LinkedIn have been notified about this ransomware distribution scheme, but it remains to be seen how they will decide to address the situation. It is possible that the problem has been patched already, yet there has been no official communication from either company regarding this issue. This is rather troublesome, and security experts remain on high alert until an official communique is presented.
Given the sheer amount of images circulating on social media, it is impossible to distinguish between legitimate offerings and potentially harmful files. In some cases, users may see a linked post that says “attachment not available”, which seemingly indicates that Facebook has blocked that file for security reasons. Unfortunately, that will not always prevent people from clicking it.
Consumers need to be vigilant at all times when using social media. A lot of content is shared by people who then send it to their contacts. If one of those messages is malicious, it can cause a global domino effect rather quickly. Malware, and more particularly Locky ransomware, are not to be trifled with, that much is certain.
If you liked this article, follow us on Twitter @themerklenews and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and technology news.