Despite the intense media attention, the recent malware attack on Facebook trapped only 39 users of the world's largest social network, a Cisco security researcher says.
Mary Landesman, senior security researcher at the networking company, said Tuesday that the Zeus Trojan discovered late last month on Facebook attracted far more attention than the attack was worth, given the number of people affected on a site with more than 800 million users worldwide. Danish security company CSIS was the first to report the outbreak.
"There's a disconnect between what sometimes security vendors report and what's actually true," Landesman said in releasing Cisco's 2011 Annual Security Report at a news conference in the company's San Bruno, Calif., offices.
Data gathered by Cisco's security division, the world's largest seller of network security appliances and software, showed that only 39 people clicked on a link that would have downloaded the malware.
"We're talking [that of] about millions of potential Facebook users, a total of 39 individuals actually ever clicked on a link related to this," Landesman said. "So, huge disconnect, 39 is not a massive Facebook worm."
The malware spread via phony posts from an infected Facebook account. The posts pretended to have a screensaver. Clicking on the link installed a "cocktail of malware," including the Trojan capable of stealing personal information, according to CSIS.
Security vendors have been criticized lately for exaggerating threats, particularly on smartphones running Google's Android operating system. Chris DiBona, open-source programs manager at Google, said vendors were "scammers and charlatans" playing to people's fears to sell anti-malware products that weren't needed. McAfee and Kaspersky Lab stood by their research, saying the threat was real.