Images from Facebook and LinkedIn can instantly infect your computer

facebooklinkedinA new virus, specifically a form of ransomware, might be targeting your computer through shared pictures on social media websites like Facebook and LinkedIn. The new attack vector called ImageGate is the culprit. Researchers from Check Point say that this new type of ransomware has been making the rounds, and is better known as Locky. The Locky ransomware is one of the most notorious malware attacks to arrive on the scene in recent months.

Malware attacks like this do not necessarily attack your PC through browsers and operating systems only. Hackers understand the flaws in the treatment of images by both Facebook and LinkedIn and use it to their advantage by forcing users to download malicious codes through the pictures which eventually hijacks the computer when you open them. The ransomware quickly encrypts your files and attackers don’t give them back to the user until the requested amount of ransom is paid.

Check Point representatives stated that they informed both LinkedIn and Facebook but it’s difficult to gauge what actions have been taken. Roman Ziakin and Dikla Barda, members of Check Points Research team wrote, “The attackers have built a new attack to embed malicious code into an image file and successfully upload it to the social media websites. The attackers exploit a misconfiguration on the social media infrastructure to deliberately force their victims to download the image file. This results in infection of the users’ device as soon as the end-user clicks on the downloaded file,” It has also been reported that hackers are using Facebook Messenger to spread the ransomware using .SVG files

This is another reminder that we should not take Facebook-like sites for granted. It’s always easier to prevent threats than react to them after the damage has been done. After all, there’s no guarantee that you will get your data back even if you pay the ‘ransom’.

As more and more people are joining social networks, cyber criminals are focusing on using new techniques like ransomware. The new and inexperienced users easily fall into their traps.

If you have clicked on an image and your browser starts downloading a file, do not open it . Social media websites show a preview of the picture without downloading any files. They’ve also asked users of Facebook and LinkedIn not to open files with weird extensions like JS, HVG, HTA, SVG.


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