Security Experts:

Top 5 Facebook Scams Revealed in Two-Year Study

A two-year study by Bitdefender sheds some light on the most popular types of scams on Facebook and who is falling for them.

The study examines more than 850,000 Facebook scams. Analyzing each of them revealed the following top five bait categories for attackers looking to hit users with spam, malware or other attacks: profile viewer scams (45.5 percent); Facebook functionality scams such as claims about adding a dislike button (29.53 percent); gift card/gadget giveaway scams (16.51 percent); celebrity scams such as death hoaxes (7.53 percent); and atrocity videos with subjects like animal cruelty (0.93 percent).

The report delves into psychological explanations as to why users fall for the traps.

"The most popular Facebook scam offers users the chance to see if they are still searched by a person for whom they may still have feelings for," according to the report. "Their judgment tells them to avoid clicking on such a lure, but this rational censorship will come along with big emotional consumption. They often don’t even need to believe the link hides emotionally-important information, but they rather do it just to check things out."

"There is also an additional element helping hackers to trick millions of users ever year," the report notes. "The “profile viewer” message is customized, touching them on a personal level."

Facebook functionality scams rely on the desire of users to make their image and experience better, while the giveaways play to greed - or in the case of giveaway scams aimed at gamers, competitiveness, Bitdefender researchers explain in the report.

"Though less present, the last two categories of Facebook scams are growing at a steady pace," according to the report. "Celebrity sex tape scams and atrocity news (such as murders and child abuse) are attracting thousands of victims with every new campaign, as they also “include” alluring videos. In the attempt of creating a profile of the most gullible victims, Bitdefender’s behavior analysts discovered there is such a wide range of users falling for Facebook scams, that an exact profiling would be too restrictive."

"In conclusion, anyone could fall victim to a Facebook scam at one point in his life, as cyber-criminals always pull the right psychological triggers."

The whitepaper can be read here.       

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