Facebook's functionality has been successful in having the social network gain fans from all over the world who enjoy staying connected with others. Unfortunately, Facebook's extreme popularity has also made it a favorite target of hackers, as its widespread presence offers them a better bang for the buck when it comes to spreading their malicious presence. To counter such hackers, two students from the University of California, Riverside have developed a free application for Facebook called MyPageKeeper. The app has the ability to detect spam, phishing scams, and malware that have infiltrated unsuspecting users' walls and news feeds, adding an extra line of real-time defense that Facebook users can employ to keep their profiles and computers protected.
Md Sazzadur Rahman and Ting-Kai Huang are the two UC Riverside computer science students responsible for creating MyPageKeeper. The two collaborated with web protection service StopTheHacker.com. Anirban Banerjee, a UC Riverside graduate, and Michalis Faloutsos, a professor at the university, founded the web protection service two years ago. They served as advisors to the students on the project after being approached for their help and expertise. StopTheHacker.com also provided the students with data and services for spam and malware detection, plus financing for the app's logo and website. The app took approximately three months to complete. Banerjee said, “The project is a no-brainer. We have to protect people on Facebook because it’s the new face of the internet.”
Rahman and Huang decided to create MyPageKeeper in response to the increased presence of spam and malware on Facebook. Facebook offers hackers and spammers plenty of avenues to spread their material, such as wall posts, private messages, and even chat. Hackers sometimes pose under the guise of legitimate companies, such as Southwest Airlines, to advertise phony offers for free flights and other items, hoping that users will click on links or provide personal information in return. Current events are also exploited by hackers on Facebook. For example, the death of Osama Bin Laden spawned fake video links promising unseen footage, which were nothing more than spam or attempts to spread malware. Many Facebook profiles have also been compromised, causing hackers to offer the stolen usernames and passwords for sale on underground hacker forums.
Rahman spoke of the recent problems Facebook has had with malicious activity: “Facebook is the new web. It provides a fertile ground to spread malware, since users trust links and posts that are seemingly from their friends. Hackers have realized this, and they have started using it to distribute malware and conduct identity theft.”
MyPageKeeper offers real-time protection by scanning news feeds, wall posts, and links posted by friends of users who have the app installed. When a malicious link or other item is identified, the app notifies the user, after which they have the option to remove the post, link, etc. While MyPageKeeper does help in identifying and eliminating spam and malware on Facebook, users should still exercise caution while using the social networking site. Hundreds of Facebook have already downloaded and installed MyPageKeeper. You can get the app free of charge by visiting www.MyPageKeeper.org.
For more on this topic, visit http://newsroom.ucr.edu/2664
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