If you're meandering through Facebook and come across a link to an unexpectedly racy photo, it might be best to stay away, as antivirus-software company Bitdefender warns on its Hot for Security blog. That saucy picture may be bait meant to lure you down a rabbit hole to malware, or to unwanted software that can hijack your Web browser.
In this case, it all started with a very clickable photo of a woman's bare behind posted to a friend's wall, which also would have had 20 of your mutual friends tagged in the post, though the scam software may have tagged them without their consent. The photo appeared to link to a pornographic video.
MORE: 10 Facebook Privacy and Security Settings to Lock Down
Those who took the bait are redirected to a URL of questionable intent. That page appeared to be a YouTube video, giving victims some false glimmer of hope that the video they clicked for was actually out there. Then, though, they'd have had to click through one more time, just to be told that access to the content of their desire required a Chrome browser plugin named mithv1.
That plugin, which Google has removed from the Chrome Web Store, was posing as an extension for Internet security, purportedly built to encrypt traffic and "unblock websites." Those who installed it may have had their browsers hijacked, a remedy for which can be found here.
Browser hijackers are becoming an epidemic for a couple of reasons: They're often legal, with big-name companies backing their development and distribution; and they work on Macs as well as Windows PCs. That doesn't make them any less annoying or frustrating.
Facebook-based scams are nothing new. While each can be taken down, Facebook has few means to prevent them from going up in the first place, especially if they immediately link to external websites. As on the rest of the Web, be careful what you click on in Facebook.
- What Is Malware? How It Can Affect Your Computer
- Browser Settings Hijacked? How to Use Chrome Reset Tool
- 7 Ways to Lock Down Your Online Privacy
Henry T. Casey is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide. Follow him on Twitter @henrytcasey. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.