Last Updated on 08/19/2013 by Chris Gampat
In its original incarnation, the Zeus malware grabbed your banking and credit information. With the rising tide of social media, Zeus has been repurposed to generate fake likes and followers. What’s a new online company with no presence going to do? Stealing credit card information surely won’t do a thing, but a fake fanbase to generate hype would help. Purchasing a fake following exists in a murky grey area. Likes and followers are sold in bulk on forums. 1,000 Instagram followers goes for about $15 whereas 1,000 likes goes for $30. 1,000 credit card numbers goes for a paltry $6.
Creating that initial base can be crucial to entering the marketplace on solid footing, but if a brand starts with 100,000+ followers, things can backfire. Unfortunately, these companies don’t realize the damage they could potentially be causing. The Zeus malware infects computers and causes them to like and follow certain pages, but the malware can easily be reprogrammed to download other far more damaging malware.
Purchasing a presence, it seems, is a necessary, if slightly undesirable, move according to online consultants who spoke with Reuters. It’s fraud in the technical sense, but if the only directive for this version of Zeus is to generate some likes and followers, it’s relatively harmless. If the folks who profit off of Zeus decide to flip a few switches, it can be a bad day for the companies who made a deal with the devil.
Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, is aware of the problem, and said that Instagram will soon have the security it has in place. While it is a nice sentiment, Facebook itself is riddled with myriad viruses causing users to unknowingly like pages which subsequently fills news feeds and confuses others. With every company listing its social media information front and center, this Zeus bit isn’t going anywhere, at least not for a while.
Via The Verge
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