OK, social gamers, listen up. We know it’s tempting, when going for that 500th friend on Mafia Wars, to just accept whatever random friend request comes along. We know you think their profile looks pretty tame, and hey, they’re members of a Mafia Wars fan group, so they must be nice, real people, right? Well, no. In fact, they could actually be spammers out to harm your computer.
We know a lot of you need to hear this because of a recent BitDefender report out of MIT’s Spam Conference (yes, that’s a real thing, apparently). The report details an experiment where two different types of fake social network accounts looked to recruit new friends — one set of accounts was subscribed to general interest groups, the other to social gaming groups.
The results? Unsurprisingly, the fake accounts with fake social gaming connections attracted many more followers looking to increase their in-game stats. What’s more, a full 24 percent of these social gaming followers were willing to click on a shortened link from this total stranger. That link could have gone anywhere! Even here!
The conclusion? “This fact brings spam and social engineering schemes closer and more effectively to the user than any e-mail spam or scam,” said BitDefender Team Leader George Petre. “Moreover, we have seen that in the social applications environment, users can be easily tricked into adding spammers to their profile. Thus, we recommend social gaming aficionados to use extreme caution before enlarging their circle of friends.” You hear that guys? EXTREME CAUTION!