Security researchers warn that looking for information about a mysterious Facebook application called "Fan Check," which some people claim to be malicious, can lead to malware itself. Apparently, scareware distributors have adopted this trending topic for a new black hat search engine optimization campaign that promotes fake antivirus software.
The new "Fan Check" Facebook application has caused quite a stir on the blogosphere and other community websites, where people contradict each other as to its purpose and intent. Some claim that it counts certain types of actions that visitors perform on someone's profile in order to determine who are the most active "fans." According to others, this is a breach of Facebook's terms of service.
More worryingly, according to some accounts, the application is malicious in nature, infecting its users with malware after a period of time. "Many of my mates (MANY) have come back today and facing the concequences [sic] for using it. Guess what, they all have viruses!" one user wrote on this Yahoo! Answers page.
Security researchers have yet to determine what it does, as it has since been taken down, allegedly for feature upgrades. "FanCheck is adding new features and new capacity. This could take a few days," its page informs, before encouraging people to subscribe to a newsletter.
One thing's sure, though, searching for "Facebook," "Fan Check," and "Virus" in the same query is not a good idea. "Hackers have set up websites pretending to be about the 'Facebook Fan Check Virus,' but which really host fake anti-virus software which display bogus warnings about the security of your computer in an attempt to get you to install fraudulent software and cough-up your credit card details," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at antivirus vendor Sophos, warns.
This new black hat SEO campaign has also been confirmed by David Harley, director of malware intelligence at ESET, developer of the NOD32 Antivirus. "You might just want to avoid Fan Check altogether and be very cautious about following search engine links on any topical issue," he advises.