A bogus application that lures Facebook users by falsely offering to show who has been viewing their profile has been exposed as a scam.
Rik Ferguson, a senior security consultant at Trend Micro, warns he has already identified 25 different copies of the same rogue app but using different monikers such as peeppeep-pro, profile-check-online and stalk-my-profile.
All of the rogue apps are spread by updates seeking to lure the friends of previous victims to give the stalkerware a try. Some even offer a photo montage of a victim's contacts in a bid to add more authenticity. However, none of the apps actually do anything except profit their creators via ad affiliate revenues and deceptive tactics.
"The app itself is designed to look convincing enough, but none of the many 'Continue' buttons it offers will activate some under-the-counter profile checking functionality - they will just push you into another Facebook app earning the scammer advertising revenue in the process," Ferguson explains in a blog post containing screenshots illustrating the scam, which resurfaced over the weekend.
"There is no officially sanctioned Facebook functionality that will allow you to view who has been checking your profile."
Facebook recently removed the ability for applications to send notifications directly. The unknown creators of stalk-my-profile have built in functionality designed to get around that limitation while still attracting the attention of would-be marks.
Security staff at Facebook acted promptly on Sunday to remove the rogue apps. That's all well and good, but Ferguson argues that only the introduction of an app-vetting scheme - something he first suggested over a year ago - stands any chance of bringing under control the growing problem of misuse of the social network by rogue application developers.
A similar scam again involving a supposed answer to the question "Who is checking your profile?" was squashed by Facebook in late February, Websense reported at the time. The reappearance of much the same scam just two weeks later underlines Ferguson's contention that simply playing whack-a-mole with rogue apps is a waste of resources that unnecessarily endangers Facebook users.
Another run of rogue apps, detected by Ferguson at the end of February, attempted to fool victims into clicking the spam notifications it sent out, earning dodgy developers affiliate-based ad revenues in the process. The app adopted the name “Like” and borrowed the icon from the official Facebook “Likes” function, but was in reality nothing more than cheap crud whose only function was to direct users towards a website offering an application called Zwinky, as Ferguson explains here. ®