What's not to Like about "Like?"

Published: 2010-09-04
Last Updated: 2010-09-04 18:46:39 UTC
by Kevin Liston (Version: 1)
6 comment(s)

"Get off of my lawn!"

I admidt that I have a suspicous, curmedgeonly streak. I view every new feature-update from Facebook like like it's a vulnerability announcement from Microsoft. I'm concerned not only with what the people behind Facebook may be planning with a feature, but moreso with how other groups might repurpose that feature. The recent expansion of the facebook API is one of those things that gives me concern.


What happens when you click "Like?"

When you click the "Like" there's an announcement of this activity on your wall, and it's added to your "Likes" section. People who have common likes can see each other, but only as much as they would share with anyone else who had their Facebook username. That doesn't sound so bad.


What are people "Like"ing?

Normally, a Facebook user could create a group or page to support a product, business or idea such as: Rock Music, Gibson Guitars, or Billy-Bear's Bean Shop. With the update of the Facebook Platform (http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=383404517130) now third party websites can place a "Like" button on their website. Is this a problem? If I like Nike shoes, why not like nike.com itself?

What has been triggering my spiedy sense is over the past couple of weeks, my facebook event log has been filling up with people "like"ing third party pages that are simple messages like: "like if you want a long lasting relationship:)!" or other simple plattitudes. The first thing that attracted my notice was that they were often mean-spirited, hateful, or had some sort of -ism in it. These were surprising messages to read on a friend or family member's page, so I suspected some sort of hijack or other foul play. Unfortunately I haven't turned up anything to support that theory, my frienda and family, are just mean people I guess.

There are a handfull of sites that have been recently set up to take advantage of this new feature in the Facebook Platform. Some that I have seen used recently are:

  • golikeus.org, 19-JUN-2010, privately registered
  • likealike.co.uk, registered 23-AUG-2010, privately registered
  • phrasely.net, registered 26-AUG-2010, privately registered

Each supports a user-created message feature where Facbook users can set up their own message and try to get as many folks to join as possible.

Recently they've updated their posts so that when the "Like" message appears on the users' wall the source is obfuscated behind a heart or musical symbol. I saw one that was even hiding behind a bit.ly link.

So other than the domains being recently registered with no contact information and the simple obfuscation, what evidence do I have that there's evil afoot? None, other than it fires a lot of my rules of thumb I've acquired over the years.


One last example.

This week, one of my family member's had this message pop up on my wall:

"WOW, This GUY Went A Little To FarWITH His REVENGE On His EX GIRLFRIEND! (shocking)"

I was certain that they'd be compromised this time. I set up a system and followed the links, capturing pcaps, just waiting for the prompt to download the fake video codec or whatever boobytrap they had waiting for me. The domain, shocking-revenge.info, was barely a day old, and the links went off to pull down content from other free-hosting providers. It had all the hallmarks of a psychological exploit. So I kept clicking like a sucker waiting for the big reward.

It never came.

Just more advertisements, and whoever's behind it has a nice bit of demographics for marketing purposes and a channel to distribute more lures and ads.


The Impact

So the short story is that there's nothing overtly evil about "like" links. I also don't see shadows of some large privacy violation or exposure when you click the "like" button on Facebook-hosted pages or sites that you trust.

However I do see some risk to clicking on un-trusted third-party "likes"; not because I have any hard data from any cases, but because I've seen this movie before, and I will see it again.

I'm just disappointed that I have friends/family with *isms. I was really hoping it was malware.

Keywords: Facebook
6 comment(s)

Investigating Malicious Website Reports

Published: 2010-09-04
Last Updated: 2010-09-04 17:18:28 UTC
by Kevin Liston (Version: 1)
1 comment(s)

This morning we received a report from Holger about a website that was triggering alerts in Google and his anti-virus applications. I wanted to share my response process.


My first step is selecting the right "responder music." You can't have a good incident reponse montage without your jams.


Next, it's a bit of domain analysis. There are a number of helpful sites that host whois and dns details about a suspected site. I use domaintools.com, others swear by robtex.com. In this particular case, the domain was registered in 2004. As a generalization, long-lived domains like that do not raise red flags, but the domain expired 30-AUG-2010 (just a few days ago) which could indicate a window of opportunity for a criminal to acquire a nice bit of "respectable" internet real-estate.


If you want to interact with the suspected website, you should use something safe. It's a little harder to determine which tool-set is safest when dealing with malicious websites since you don't reliably know what they're targeting most of the time. I went with an OSX image that was pretending to be a windows box.


Malware authors are catching on to the old wget-with-a-spoofed-user-agent trick. I've taken to synthesizing victim behavior by first starting with some google-searches so that I can build a convincing referer URL. Googleing for the domain turned up mainly the main website and a lot of traffic analysis of the domain from places like Alexa and trafficestimate. I added the "inurl:" google syntax in the hopes of finding examples where an attacker may have been spamming out links to forums and such to drive attacks to the exploit site. The search didn't turn up many results (something that also didn't raise any red flags,) but when I tried to have Google translatethe site for me (a risky move but I can easily restart the image) I received the Google warning that Holger reported. At this point I have what I need to grab a copy of the potential-exploit. I still use wget, and spoof the user-agent to look like an IE request, and use the referer link from the Google search.


The request worked, but URL that allegely pointed to a .JPG returned HTML. That's a bit unexpected. By glancing through the HTML results the obfuscated javascript jumps out. A handfull of Math.* calls and document.write statements are a pretty solid flag that something odd is going on. In this case its intent was to create a pop-up to an ad-server.


The owners of the website claim that the Google and AV alerts about the site are false. I will grant that the intent behind the obfuscated script wasn't overtly criminal in this case, but I wouldn't call it a false-positive result. I would urge the advertising network to be up-front about what they're advertising and where they're advertising it from. There's no reason to use document.write games to set up your javascript calls to your ads.

1 comment(s)


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