Posted by: David Harley | March 29, 2010

Farmville hoax a-tractor

I’ve mentioned elsewhere [1] that Facebook has become a valuable supplementary channel for the hoaxers who in the past have tended to spread chain letters by snailmail and, more recently, by email and other messaging services.

Graham Cluley, of Sophos, has reported [2] a prime example that targets the 80 million or so users of the Facebook farming simulation game Farmville:

RED ALERT!!! Norton has just informed me that the post for Send the 3 spring Eggs at a time is a virus, Rawand Bradosty is a HACKER from Pakistan, do not click on this post it is not legitimate, please copy and repost immediately.

Graham reports that Sophos, like ESET, has not seen any malware distributed in this fashion. He goes on to say that:

“Rawand Bradosty appears to be having his name tarnished without justification. In fact, it could be argued that the warning is causing much more disruption and time-wasting than a genuine virus outbreak would ever have done!”

Certainly I can confirm that during my time in the UK’s National Health Service, some of the most disruptive email issues were hoaxes such as the SULFNBK “virus” and semi-hoaxes such as mailstorms relating to the 2004 Tsunami, especially those relating to children caught up in the disaster. Though it occurs to me that malware that really did affect 80 million people could also have a pretty dramatic effect on Internet use in general. The sheer numbers involved in social networking nowadays raises glut issues by which those mailstorms look almost manageable.

 Coincidentally, Mikko Hypponen has just tweeted a link to an article [3] by @fredwilson that cites some interesting traffic statistics for February 2010

  • Facebook: 471 million worldwide visitors, 370 million (78%)  non US
  • Twitter: 74 million worldwide users, 53 million (72%) non US

Those are big audiences for a chain message…

[1] “Facebook, Chain Letters are so Last Decade”:,20100304,16373

[2] “The FarmVille ‘Three Spring Eggs’ virus is a hoax”: 

[3] “Does Rest Of World Matter More Than The US?”

Security Author/Consultant at Small Blue-Green World
Chief Operations Officer, AVIEN
ESET Research Fellow & Director of Malware Intelligence

Also blogging at:


  1. […] I’d bought London Bridge, but instead I bought the farm Back at the end of March, I reported on a hoax alert from Graham Cluley  about an alleged Farmville virus threatening users of the […]

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