The Dangers of Facebook Apps


 

some examples

Many people are unaware that the apps you see on Facebook are not not added by Facebook but by third parties, in fact anyone can create their own app or page. As Facebook is so popular these apps are mostly created by unscrupulous types (CRIMINALS) to steal personal information for spamming and much more serious crimes like identity theft. These apps come in a variety of different types ie. everything from games to family trees and quizzes. There is great risk involved in using them. Here I explain how they work and why you should NOT use them.

The Psychology

These apps give no genuine results, everything is randomly generated. The user is given the impression that the quizzes for example are difficult, when in fact they are purposely easy so that the user gets good results thus stroking their ego into thinking they have done well so they will most likely share the result, this results in spreading the scam to as many people as possible. So by sharing these app results you are putting those on your friends list at risk also!

Access to Private Information

Before you can start using an application on Facebook, you must first allow it access to your information (information requested varies from app to app). If you do not allow this, you will not be able to use the application. In their rush to start using an application, people do not take the time to always read the permission request so that they can see exactly what privileges they are granting the application. There is always a danger that whoever created the application will use the information that they gain from your Facebook profile for nefarious purposes, such as identity theft or fraud. Besides requesting access to your email (all of them), timeline and posts (even if set to friends only), everything you have ever posted (including photos), your location, your friends list, your friends information and anything they have shared with you, post on your behalf and even access to you personal messages!

requesting access

Spam and Viruses

One of the most commonly requested permissions from Facebook applications is your email. Your email will be either sold or added to their own spam mailing list. Links in these emails can point to external websites with malicious content that can possibly infect your computer. Trojans, spyware and other backdoor programs that might be hidden in the emails or links also put any confidential user information at risk from hackers.

Danger to Friends and Family

When using these applications on Facebook you are not just putting yourself at risk, it not only has access to your friend list but in most cases you also give it permission to post on your behalf. Because you have no control over the links and content that is posted by the application, this will expose those on your friend list to the scam also. A common tactic by rogue applications is to post notifications stating that they have been tagged in a photo by you, or that you are recommending a website to them. When they click on these links, they are taken to an external websites, which can either use phishing techniques to gain access to their personal information or expose them to malware.

A Typical Example

A South Korean company Vonvon who had an app called “Word Cloud” (Click on this app and words from your Facebook page show up in a cloud) recently stole personal data, profile picture, age, sex, birthday, entire friend list, everything you have ever posted on your timeline, photos, hometown, education history and everything you’ve ever liked. The information was used in several cases of identity theft and they are currently awaiting prosecution.

Summary

These apps are pointless and provide no valid information or results at all, so it’s safest just to avoid these apps altogether, especially those that request permissions to access your personal Facebook information. There are apps that do not make any permission requests, however these can still be a security threat as the sites often contain malware that will infect the users device with spyware and various viruses, a few are simply trying to get people onto their websites for additional hits (click bait). Best course of action is to avoid them ALL!

Tip: Once in your Facebook account, open settings, then account settings. Click on “Apps” then “Apps others use.” Disable them!


Author

web designer, music lover and Online security expert.