Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

2/2/2012
08:00 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

How To Spot A Fake Facebook Profile

Barracuda Networks gathers telltale characteristics of the phony Facebook 'Friend'

CANCUN, MEXICO -- Kaspersky Lab Security Analyst Summit 2012 -- Want to know who your real Facebook Friends are and are not?

Turns out there are some common characteristics of the fake Friend, according to new data revealed today by Barracuda Networks. For one thing, it's likely a female: Some 97 percent of fakes pose as women, while about 40 percent of real Facebook accounts are women, said Paul Judge, chief research officer at Barracuda, here today at the Kaspersky Lab Security Analyst Summit.

"Fake users can take over your account, spam your wall and feeds," Judge said. Many of these profiles are automatically generated, aimed at making money off of affiliate campaigns or spam-related scams: They spread phony ad campaigns for free gift cards from Starbucks or other trusted brands, he said.

A typical Facebook fake profile starts out by joining a group, such as a college network, in a large metropolitan area (think: population) and then shoots out friend requests to its members. They are all about luring new friends, and Barracuda has gathered some of the common traits of these fakes, such as their profile information and activities.

They hedge their bets: For example, 58 percent of fake Facebook accounts say they are interesting in both men and women, while only about 6 percent of legitimate accounts say the same. In addition, phony profiles tend to stand out due to the sheer volume of their "Friends." On average, they boast 726 Facebook friends, while real users have about 130 Friends on the social network. Nearly 70 percent of the posers claim to have attended college, while about 40 percent of legitimate users' profiles include college educations.

There's plenty of evidence of automated generation of these fake profiles, too. Barracuda found that while most "real" Facebook users have an average distance of 618 miles between their high schools and colleges, the fakes purported to have attended colleges much closer to their high schools -- an average of 338 miles away. "They went for the closest college," Judge said.

Fake Friends also tend to be tag-happy. While the average legit Facebook user tags one friend per every four photos he or she uploads, the fakes on average tag 30 people per photo they upload. It's all about casting a wide net, according to the researchers.

Even so, they don't update much overall -- 43 percent have never updated their Facebook statuses, while only 15 percent of legit Facebook users have never updated theirs. The phony profiles don't share interests on Facebook as much as legit users do, either -- only 35 percent versus 77 percent of real users.

Judge said Barracuda has built a tool to crawl Facebook for fake profiles, and is working on a plug-in so user scan preview Friend requests. The company offers the ProfileProtector tool for Facebook and Twitter users. "We're [also] working on the relationship between a user and their friends, using streaming algorithms to determine the trending topics between their accounts," for example, Judge says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
MS8699
50%
50%
MS8699,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2012 | 5:13:42 AM
re: How To Spot A Fake Facebook Profile
The average legit Facebook user tags one friend per every four photos he or she uploads, the fakes on average tag 30 people per photo they upload. It's all about casting a wide net, according to the researchers.
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Active Directory Needs an Update: Here's Why
Raz Rafaeli, CEO and Co-Founder at Secret Double Octopus,  1/16/2020
Google Lets iPhone Users Turn Device into Security Key
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/15/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-16270
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
Samsung Galaxy Gear series before build RE2 includes the hcidump utility with no privilege or permission restriction. This allows an unprivileged process to dump Bluetooth HCI packets to an arbitrary file path.
CVE-2018-16271
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
The wemail_consumer_service (from the built-in application wemail) in Samsung Galaxy Gear series allows an unprivileged process to manipulate a user's mailbox, due to improper D-Bus security policy configurations. An arbitrary email can also be sent from the mailbox via the paired smartphone. This a...
CVE-2018-16272
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
The wpa_supplicant system service in Samsung Galaxy Gear series allows an unprivileged process to fully control the Wi-Fi interface, due to the lack of its D-Bus security policy configurations. This affects Tizen-based firmwares including Samsung Galaxy Gear series before build RE2.
CVE-2019-10780
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
BibTeX-ruby before 5.1.0 allows shell command injection due to unsanitized user input being passed directly to the built-in Ruby Kernel.open method through BibTeX.open.
CVE-2019-10781
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
In schema-inspector before 1.6.9, a maliciously crafted JavaScript object can bypass the `sanitize()` and the `validate()` function used within schema-inspector.