Beware: “LOL” Virus is Roaming Facebook’s Chat

Social networks are dominating the online market in a way that was almost unthinkable before. Almost everyone has at least one social media account and spends hours browsing and utilizing them. They are visited and used everyday by millions of users worldwide, so it comes as no surprise that these platforms are, nowadays, one of the main targets for hacker attacks.

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Photo: Franco Bouly / Flickr

These threats come in various ways and have different specific targets, which makes it hard to spot and eliminate this kind of cyber attack. But they are indeed growing in numbers, with reported infections related to social networks rising at a concerning pace.

Recently, a new virus has been detected on Facebook: it has been named “LOL”, because affected users received a chat message containing the colloquial expression meaning “Laughing Out Loud”. Together with this subliminal message comes an attachment, in the format Photo_xxx.zip or IMG_xxx.zip. The message itself is harmless, as the problem here is really linked to the attachment.

If you download the attachment, you will not find a typical .jpg or .png file, but a Java one instead. This file will automatically downloads malware from Dropbox, which will then infect your system.

The origin and content of this malware is still to be identified but, apparently, it comes under several variants, making the task of finding who is behind it and how it works even harder. However, and if it were not bad enough, the “LOL” virus will not only infect your system – it will also hijack your Facebook account and spread itself to all your contacts there.

Due to its novelty, there is no specific solution available for the moment, so the best thing to do is pay attention to all the received messages and, if you receive a message fitting this description, do not open it. For people that have downloaded the attachment and executed the file, change the password of your Facebook account and scan your system for threats as fast as possible.

There are a few other notes of advice that, even though being old, are useful for this kind of situations. For example, one should never download (and open, obviously) a file that seems suspicious, be it on Facebook, email, and so on. Also, in the specific case of Facebook, pay attention to the sender of the messages you receive and, if you receive attachments from people with whom you rarely speak, be suspicious. Better safe than sorry.

Other than that, Windows users should always have, at least, an antivirus working at all times. It is also best if they can have an active firewall and some anti-malware software. If you often plug USB drives into your computer, disable the autorun in these devices, as autorun it is the number one cause for infections coming from them.