A US man who sent more than 27 million spam to Facebook users has turned himself in to FBI officers in California after being put on their wanted list. Sanford Wallace, from Las Vegas developed a program that was able to circumvent Facebook's spam filters. The software then lured over 500,000 people to hand over personal details to his app.
Wallace denies the charges which carry a jail term of up to 10 years and has been released on $100,000 bail by the authorities.
Prosecutors have said that Wallace earned "substantial revenue" from selling the personal data harvested by his app which propagated by posting itself to the walls of the friends of victims. The spam was sent, and the personal data harvested between November 2008 and March 2009.
Facebook successfully sued Wallace in 2009 and a federal judge ordered him not to access their service. Prosecutors are claiming this is an order Wallace ignored and violated on countless occasions.
Facebook is not the only service to have been hit by Wallace. In 2008 he lost a civil prosecution brought by MySpace for sending junk messages on their network.
Facebook spam and malware apps is clearly a growing problem that isn't going away. Malware writers and criminals are taking advantage of the lack of knowledge most computer users have about what the threats to their personal data are, and how to look for them.
It is getting more and more common to see fake videos posted to walls, apparently by friends, with subjects such as "Daddy walked in on her" or "World's worst hen night prank". The simple rule to follow with video is that the video, when clicked directly, will play in the wall view. If it takes you to another page, even if it looks like Facebook and asks you to click to allow it permission it's malware.
This is the same for all other malware links on the service. If you suspect you have already authorised malware on your Facebook account follow these simple instructions to remove them.
It is also wise never to include your home address, home telephone number or mobile telephone number in your profile as this is information that is most valuable to spammers. If your friends want to know your personal details they'll always ask you in a secure direct message and you can tell them directly.
It is also wise to check your general Facebook privacy settings with you can do in Account > Privacy. Here you can see if your personal information is shared just with your friends, their friends or with everybody on Facebook. Any information shared publicly will also be visible to search engines and could include sensitive information about you.
It is because Facebook have tightened privacy controls in the last year that we're seeing more and more malware apps that want permission to access your personal information. Giving an app permission is the same as making the writers of that app a friend, as they will then have access to all the information about you that you put on the social network, including photographs and status messages.
By far the safest way to protect yourself on Facebook is not to put sensitive and personal information there in the first instance.Advertisement
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.