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Cnn Sophos Anonymous

Facebook nails 'ugly porn' but some users shy away meantime from site

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

November 15, 2011 | 4 min read

Facebook has acted to curb a widespread and ugly spam attack with "porn, violent images and other graphic pieces of content " first reported by UK web security firm Sophos

Facebook security

As Facebook sought to damp down concerns, some users were taking no chances . At the Massachusetts State House in Boston, access to Facebook was banned on all office computers. On the Wall Street Journal website, one commentator said the best way to avoid the problem was "to stay off Facebook for a few days."

In a statement Facebook said the root of the problem was malicious javascript that some users were tricked into pasting to their browser URL bar "causing them to unknowingly share this offensive content."

“Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us, and we are always working to improve our systems to isolate and remove material that violates our terms," said the social network.

"Recently, we experienced a coordinated spam attack that exploited a browser vulnerability. Our efforts have drastically limited the damage caused by this attack, and we are now in the process of investigating to identify those responsible."

Facebook said their engineers had been working diligently on this self-XSS vulnerability in the browser. "We’ve built enforcement mechanisms to quickly shut down the malicious Pages and accounts that attempt to exploit it."

The report that "explicit and violent images had been flooding the News Feeds of Facebook users" was broadcast by CNN on Tuesday, quoting Graham Cluley, a consultant with Web security firm Sophos, based in Oxford .

Cluley wrote on the Sophos blog that the images had included hardcore porn; photoshopped images of celebrities, including teen pop star Justin Bieber, in sexual positions; "extreme violence;" and at least one image of an abused dog.

"What's clear," Cluley wrote, "is that mischief-makers are upsetting many Facebook users and making the social networking site a far from a family-friendly place."

Facebook now has more than 800 million active users. “They needs to get this under control, because the content is so offensive,’’ added Cluley. . “Some people may quit Facebook.’’

Facebook users commented on Twitter. “Has anyone been on Facebook lately?’’ tweeted Jay Ciroc, who said he was a recording artist living in New Jersey. “My newsfeed looks like a porn site.’’ Some Twitter users said they would quit Facebook as a result.

CNN.com staffers first reported seeing some of the images on Tuesday .

Speculation on the Web turned at first-- as it often does in online hacking cases, said CNN -- to the controversial "hacktivist" collective Anonymous. A group claiming allegiance to Anonymous announced it was going to make November 5 "Kill Facebook Day." Nothing happened that day.

But Facebook dismissed the Anonymous speculation . A spokesman said the attack had been designed for financial gain. The junk posts sent users to affiliate sites that could generate revenue for the spammers.

There are extensive comments on the Sophos site (link below).

Cnn Sophos Anonymous

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