Saturday, August 8, 2009

Beware, Facebook users

Facebook users out there should beware of perils lurking in the guise of Facebook apps. Trojans, viruses, spyware, and adware await unsuspecting FB bloggers. And while the quizzes on FB can be entertaining, do you know the person that created the quiz you are taking? Some of the quizzes ask for your permission to allow information to be added to your wall, or taken from your profile. Some users will be shocked to discover though, that some of these quizzes, and other apps, are distractions for trojans that sneak in and take over your computer. My sister was the victim of one such attack. Fortunately for her, her husband is a trained computer tech and was able to clean her infected laptop, saving her a bundle of money on computer repair. It took him the better part of the day to wipe her computer of the infecting virus and restore her defaults. I bet she is more careful of the quizzes she takes on Facebook now.

Today, I made the mistake of clicking on one of the advertisements on the right side of my FB home page thinking I was going to upload or give an online link to a picture of mine and have a characature or cartoonization of me digitally drawn. I should have known better when it asked me to download its applet. My second clue should have been when it did NOT ask me to upload any pictures, but instead I was asked to pick and customize my facial features from choices provided to me from a javascript applet online. If all I had to do was pick out features from a javascript applet online, then why did it need me to download an applet?! After posting the personalized cartoon tattoo to my wall, I logged out of Facebook, closed my browser and continued to do things on my computer. The next time I opened my browser, however, I was slightly irked to find this app that I had downloaded changed my home page without my knowledge nor consent. (My teatimer usually asks my permission to change my home page. This time, it did not!) Not only did it change my starting home page, it also added a custom search bar to my browser. Okay, this is a bit much, I thought... And set about trying to uninstall this app.

The directions page the link on the tool bar took me to, to unistall this app told me to looking in my computer's control panel and remove it through the add/remove programs feature. Interestingly enough, this toolbar did not show up under the list of programs. Nor, did it show up in the programs under my Start>Programs menu. I finally had to use my browser's Tools menu to remove the toolbar from my browser. (Tools>Add-ons>Extensions)

After going through all this, and resetting my home page, I logged back in to Facebook and removed the tattoo from my wall so that any of my friends would NOT stumble upon this same problem from me.

The name of this app that gave me so much trouble, you ask? It's called "Tattoodle", and my history says its a Facebook app. (

So, the next time you feel like taking a Facebook quiz, or trying out a cute new app, ask yourself this, "Do I really know the person that created this quiz?", and "Do I really need this app, or could I do without it, and save my computer?"


Douglas said...

You're right -- avoid all quizzes and such nonsense. They are just another way for marketing companies to get to your personal profile. Even Mac users need to be cautious of these apps although not in the malware sense.

SonicGeekette said...

Mac users still need to be ware of malware, its rare that it happens, but I think its rarity has given Mac users a false sense of security. It seems like there are more alerts for Mac users these days where malware and trojans are concerned.

Thanks for your comments, ~Michelle.

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