Facebook’s Messenger app is an incredible tool for connecting with friends and family members — especially long-distance ones. And with over 1.2 billion users, you can likely use it to chat with most of the people you know.
But because it’s so popular, it’s a huge target for hackers, and a new Facebook Messenger virus is prompting massive warnings from digital experts and online security groups.
One of America’s most beloved and trusted weekend radio talk show hosts, Kim Komando, is warning Facebook users about a virus that comes via a chat message that looks like it’s coming from one of your friends.
Hackers are sending you messages that have your friend’s name on it followed by the word “Video,” a shocked face emoji, and a link to a video for you to click on. But beware. It’s all a scam, and it can affect your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
If you’re using a Google Chrome browser and you click on the link, you’ll be sent to a fake YouTube page that asks you to download a Chrome extension to watch the video. But the download will install an advertising program on your computer that will throw up a bunch of ads in the background — sucking up your computer’s limited operating power — and automatically click them in order to gain ad revenue.
By clicking on the link, you’ll also be downloading a virus that steals your Facebook account information in order to create fake accounts under your name and scam your Facebook friends.
For Firefox and Safari users, the fake YouTube link will give them a message telling them to download a Flash Media Player in order to watch the video. A similar ad program will be installed.
NBC-affiliate WESH 2 claims that by stealing your Facebook account information, hackers will possibly be able to get into your bank account information as well.
This all sounds pretty scary, but it’s a virus that’s easy to avoid if you know what to look for. Just look for Facebook Messenger messages that have this appearance:
If you see one, don’t click on it. Warn the Facebook friend that it appears to be coming from about the virus. Also let them know to change their Facebook password. Installing a good virus scanner on your computer can help both of you as well.
Let your friends and family know about this! In other recent scam alerts, a new phone scam involves a stranger on the other end beginning their conversation with four key words that can cost you a whole lot of money if you don’t answer them correctly.