Breaking dawn attack: How to avoid getting bit

A new clickjacking attack is spreading across Facebook targeting fans of the popular Twilight saga

A new attack is spreading its way across Facebook, targeting fans of the epic vampire series Twilight. The clickjacking scam demonstrates just how easy it is to spread malware socially -- especially if the bait is a phenomenon like Twilight that has such a devoted fanbase.

The next movie in the Twilight series -- Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- is due in theaters this November for the Thanksgiving kickoff to the holiday movie season. According to the Naked Security blog from Sophos, the new Facebook scam appears to be a link to a game pretending to promote the upcoming Twilight saga movie.

Amol Sarwate, vulnerabilities lab manager at Qualys, explains that the concept of clickjacking is not new, and has quickly been established as a staple of social engineering attacks. Essentially, the user is somehow tricked into clicking on something which leads to a variety of unintended -- typically malicious or at least mischievous -- actions being executed on behalf of the user without the user's knowledge.

"Sophisticated threat agents are now monitoring Twitter feeds to discover the subjects that are most likely to grab your interest so they can use spear phishing techniques or approach you indirectly through social networks," according to CTO of nCircle, Tim 'TK' Keanini.

Vikram Thakur, Principle Security Response Manager for Symantec, describes how an attack like this gets started in the first place. Symantec believes that attackers were able to used stolen or hacked account credentials to log in to Facebook accounts in order to upload images and tag them with friends of the compromised Facebook account. The tagging leads to the image being shared throughout the social network down to one or two degrees of separation from the hacked account and results in the attack being spread with each new click of the image.

In the case of the Breaking Dawn attack, the attackers would add the malicious app to the compromised Facebook profile rather than uploading an image, then 'Like' it and share it with the friends of the hacked Facebook account so those users will click on it and propagate the attack throughout Facebook.

Andrew Storms, Director of Security Operations for nCircle, told me that social media malware campaigns such as this are difficult to defend against. The tagged image or Breaking Dawn app are tempting because they appear to come from a trusted friend within the social network. Storms cautions users to slow down and think twice before jumping (or clicking) on the bandwagon when something seems to be spreading quickly through a network of friends.

It is not that difficult to avoid becoming a victim of a clickjacking attack -- even a socially engineered one targeting a popular theme like the Twilight saga. The main thing to remember is to always exercise a healthy dose of cautious skepticism with messages on social networks just as you would (or at least should) if a friend were to send you an email with a link or file attachment. If you think you may have already been compromised by the Breaking Dawn attack, you should go into your Facebook account settings and remove the app.

Randy Abrams, Director of Technical Education at ESET, sums it up. "There is a class of user who cannot be protected from themselves. Many users can learn from the mistakes of others, especially when the material is presented well. For the avid, rabid fan, sometimes the only way they will learn is to get bit a few times."

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Tony Bradley

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