Cybercriminals are using Messenger to infect computers with malware that mines cryptocurrency.
Security researchers the Trend Micro cyber security firm said “Digmine” is targeting as many machines as possible, in order to earn monero – an alternative to bitcoin – for its creators
It could also help cyber criminals completely take over a Facebook account, the researchers added.
The bot was detected by cyber security firm Trend Micro, which says “Digimine” is designed to look like a video file.
Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and all other major cryptocurrencies crash
It only works when it is spread via the desktop version of Messenger, on Google Chrome. If you open it through Messenger on another platform, such as a mobile phone, Digmine won’t function as it is supposed to.
However, it can still be considered very dangerous. As well as having the potential to let hackers take over your account, it can also slow your computer down and use your Facebook account to target your friends.
“If the user’s Facebook account is set to log in automatically, Digmine will manipulate Facebook Messenger in order to send a link to the file to the account’s friends,” the researchers said.
“The abuse of Facebook is limited to propagation for now, but it wouldn’t be implausible for attackers to hijack the Facebook account itself down the line.”
Security experts recently told The Independent that bitcoin’s rapid recent rise in value might be making unsuspecting computer users more vulnerable to hackers.
It has led to more and more machines being secretly infected with malware that is designed to help cyber criminals “mine” for cryptocurrencies.
“The increasing popularity of cryptocurrency mining is drawing attackers back to the mining botnet business,” said Trend Micro.
“And like many cybercriminal schemes, numbers are crucial — bigger victim pools equate to potentially bigger profits. The fact that they’re piggybacking on popular platforms such as social media to spread their malware is unsurprising.”
11 useful Facebook features you didn’t know existed
11 useful Facebook features you didn’t know existed
Clean up your News Feed
Most of us are Facebook friends with some people we don’t actually care about, and there are several ways to keep their updates off your News Feed. The easiest option is to head to the column on the left and open News Feed Preferences. From here, you can prioritise friends, unfollow friends, refollow friends you unfollowed in the past and even block specific apps.
Change ad preferences
You can view a list of everything Facebook thinks you’re into and tinker with your ad preferences. A lot more information is displayed on the desktop site than the app, so we’d recommend doing this on a computer. Just open Settings and select Advert Preferences.
You can get notifications about pretty much anything on Facebook these days, and that can be seriously irritating. Choose what you do and don’t want to be notified about by going into the Settings menu and selecting Notifications. You might be surprised by the number of sections you have to trawl through.
Facebook automatically plays videos in your News Feed, and that’s a problem if you aren’t on a generous data plan. You can change this by going to Videos in the Settings menu and disabling autoplay. On the app, there’s feature in the left-hand column called Data Saver, which also does this, but reduces the size of pictures too.
Reorder your News feed
You can choose to order the updates that appear in your News Feed by time or importance. Just hit the three buttons next to News Feed Preferences on the Facebook site and choose between Top Stories and Recent Stories.
Download your data
Facebook lets you download all of the immense amounts of data it has on you, including the posts you’ve shared, your messages and photos, ads you’ve clicked on and even the IP addresses that are logged when you log in or out of the site. It’s a lot of information, which you’ll want to get your hands on if you decide to quit the social network.
Find nearby places
Nearby Places is actually a really handy tool, which lets you quickly find and research things like restaurants, hotels, museums and nightlife hotspots around you. It lives in the left-hand column, and also shows useful information like customer ratings, prices and distance.
Find free Wi-Fi
Similarly, Find Wi-Fi is ideal for when you’re bored, running low on data or lost. It shows you all the places in your vicinity that offer free Wi-Fi, so you can head over and either relax or get some work done.
Save things for later
Facebook’s ideal for killing time, but every now and again you’ll stumble across something you’re interested in right as you need to put your phone away. Fortunately, you can save posts for later by hitting the arrow in the top-right corner and selecting the Save option. Everything you save goes straight to the Saved section in the left-hand column.
When people tag you in posts or pictures, they don’t have to automatically appear on your profile. You can switch on Facebook’s Review Tags feature by going to Settings and Timeline and Tagging.
Delete your account
To permanently delete your Facebook account, you need to head to Facebook’s Delete Account page. The site can take up to 90 days to process account deletion requests, but once your account’s gone, it’s gone. You can deactivate your account instead, by going to Security and Login in the Settings menu.
The researchers the malware has infected people in South Korea, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and Venezuela, but “it’s not far-off for Digmine to reach other countries given the way it propagates”.
They have alerted Facebook to the malware.
The social media giant said: “We maintain a number of automated systems to help stop harmful links and files from appearing on Facebook and in Messenger. If we suspect your computer is infected with malware, we will provide you with a free anti-virus scan from our trusted partners.
“We share tips on how to stay secure and links to these scanners on facebook.com/help.”
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