Facebook’s Timeline application has drawn mixed reactions from its users since its launch. Some treat it like a high-school scrapbook, while others consider it a gross invasion of privacy. But cyber security experts ESET Middle East said the Timeline application is prone to an alarming number of cyber threats.
With over two million active users in the UAE, the firm warns of malware (malicious software) attacks from scamsters and click-jackers. The new feature replaces the traditional profile page and allows a growing number of Timeline-related scams and malicious campaigns offering fake applications.
Currently, the feature is not mandatory for all its users. Once the Timeline has been activated, users cannot deactivate it. But. last month, Facebook said it would be making the feature mandatory soon.
ESET Middle East general manager Aji Joseph explained: “The fake pages/ apps urges users to click on ‘Like’ buttons in order to activate a feature that allows them to enable or disable the Timeline whenever they want on their profiles. After the entire process is complete, a message appears saying ‘the Timeline Office will take care of their request’. Likes is the most common activity on Facebook, which could possibly dupe users to malicious scams”.
“Malware scams usually spike on users profile pages after major world events. For example profiles were being lambasted with video links of killings of Muammar Gadaffi and Osama bin Laden immediately after they passed away.’’
Joseph advises users to keep their privacy settings updated and avoid adding unknown people as friends. He said: “Educated users know how to keep their content hidden.
But if users are not careful, lax privacy settings can lead to false profiles being created in your name, personal details can be used, it can expose your computer to malware like viruses and worms, it can expose your information to strangers and your pictures can be misused.”
Engineer Neal D’Souza said: “I wasn’t too happy at first because it was a change. But it’s brilliant now. I can go back in time and see what my friends were up to.”
Software engineer Edwin Jacob said: “The timeline is a nuisance. It’s like a map to my life. I have half the mind to deactivate my profile.”
Agreeing with Neal, designer Nidu Divakaran said: “I am not worried as I keep my privacy setting updated and I think twice before adding anyone. But the Timeline has certainly brought some unwanted attention. Hence, I mostly tend to not keep a cover photo as that is on a “public” setting.
Joseph added: “Avoid links to videos which take you to malicious websites and web pages that give you to the option to disable the Timeline. Be careful about what you ‘Like’ on Facebook”.