Facebook glitch let spammer post to walls

Facebook says that a photo-processing flaw let a spammer post thousands of Free iPhone messages

A clever spammer found a glitch in Facebook's photo upload system and used it to post thousands of unwanted Wall messages this week.

Facebook confirmed the bug Friday, after notifying affected users of the issue.

Andrew Jones was one of the victims. He thought that his Facebook account had been hijacked Sunday after a friend pointed out a spam message on his wall. He quickly changed his password, but worried that some of his other e-mail accounts might have been taken over too. "No other signs of compromise were visible, and I concluded the most likely scenario was a public computer I had used recently had some type of malware on it," he told the IDG News Service via e-mail.

Turns out that the problem was all Facebook's.

"Earlier this week, we discovered a bug in the code that processes photos as they're uploaded. This bug caused us not to make the correct checks when determining whether a photo should be posted to a person's profile," Facebook said Friday in an e-mailed statement. "We quickly worked to resolve the issue and fixed it shortly after discovering it. For a short period of time before it was fixed, a single spammer was able to post photos to people's profiles that they hadn't approved."

Most of the messages promised "Free iPhones," a common spam message on Facebook these days. The free iPhone and iPad messages generally take users to websites where they are instructed to fill out marketing surveys or sign up for product subscriptions. Victims have reported having their phone numbers inundated with calls after filling out these surveys.

Facebook says that the spammer hit thousands of profiles before the company removed the spammy photos and notified affected users. No accounts were compromised as a result of the bug, Facebook said.

People whose Walls were hit with the spam got a notice from Facebook's security team, reading:

"For a few hours on Sunday, there was a spamming incident on Facebook. During this time, photos -- mostly of supposedly 'free' iPhones -- were posted to some people's Walls, including yours. We've removed the photo from your Wall and fixed the issue that allowed spammers to do this. We're sorry about the photo, but can assure you that this did not affect the security of your account in any way."

Spammers love Facebook because users are more likely to click on Facebook messages and wall posts than on links in unsolicited e-mail messages.

This week, Facebook introduced new controls that allow users to see if unauthorized computers have been used to log into their accounts.

But spammers will keep trying to use Facebook, according to Chris Boyd, a senior researcher with security vendor GFI Software.

The spam images used by this "Free iPod" spammer can be highly effective, he said. "Image spam is a great way for scammers to promote fake applications and surveys," he said via instant message. "An individual likely to fall for something like this will probably be more attracted by a nice picture than a random spam-link."

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetFacebooksocial networkingscamsInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?