Facebook has taken emergency measures to tackle the spread of the Ramnit worm currently hitting its network, by temporarily shutting down 45,000 Facebook accounts.
The world’s largest social media network has struggled to cope with the speed the worm has infected its system even though the Ramnit worm originally emerged in April 2010. Despite the worm being nearly two years old only recently has it had such a detrimental effect on Facebook’s system.
An Israel computer firm has released a statement on its blog: “It was fairly straightforward to detect that over 45,000 Facebook login credentials have been stolen worldwide, mostly from users in the United Kingdom and France.”
It added, “We suspect that the attackers behind Ramnit are using the stolen credentials to log-in to victims’ Facebook accounts and to transmit malicious links to their friends, thereby magnifying the malware’s spread even further.”
Users that have had their information stolen could potentially have those details put out for sale on the black market. The huge breach of user privacy is thought to have been the main factor in Facebook decided to close down tens of thousands of user accounts to bring a halt to the worm.
Facebook has acknowledged the problem affecting them: “Our security experts have reviewed the data, and while the majority of the information was out-of-date, we have initiated remedial steps for all affected users to ensure the security of their accounts.
“Thus far, we have not seen the virus propagating on Facebook itself, but have begun working with our external partners to add protections to our anti-virus systems to help users secure their devices.”
Facebook has warned users not to click on unknown or strange links that appear in their accounts, and to report anything they encounter that seems out of the ordinary or potentially dangerous.