Citing Italian security researchers who have been investigating the issue, a report from The New York Times says the new virus steals Facebook account passwords and web browser.
Virus appears in the form of a link
The virus appears in the form of a link in an email or Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) message, which conveys a message to the user that someone has tagged him in a Facebook post. On clicking the link, the user is directed to a new website and is prompted to download a browser extension or plugin to watch the video.
The moment the plugin gets downloaded, almost everything the user saved in the browser is hacked, including accounts with saved passwords. This virus is a menace because many users save their passwords within a browser.
Google, Facebook taking possible actions
According to the researchers, the virus is transmitting into accounts with shocking speed at 40,000 attacks per hour and has by now affected 800,000 people using Google Chrome browser.
In response to these attacks, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has already discontinued the extensions which allowed it. Facebook is also trying to get rid of the links. According to a Facebook spokesperson, it is blocking people from clicking through on the links.
Approximately 70 percent of the internet population uses Google Chrome, and there seems to be no definite way to stop this virus, so extreme caution coupled with common sense is the best defence. As of now, this virus has not affected Internet Explorer and Safari.
An earlier virus that attacked Facebook users
Earlier in June, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) was attacked by another virus that could steal bank account details. Trend Micro security experts found that popular brand pages like the United States National Football League had spam links posted from fake Facebook profiles. These links are believed to come from the Russian Business Network.
This was a Trojan virus, which automatically got installed on the computer the moment a user clicked the link. Once downloaded, the virus scans and steals all the personal information on the system by hacking the user's login detail even when the information has not been saved in system documents. Trojan malware initially surfaced six years back, and again appeared on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) along with other sites.