Fake invitations to Google’s new social network send users to a Canadian Viagra vendor
Scammers have begun exploiting the launch of Google’s new Google+ social network, with a growing raft of spam emails that imitate Google+ invitations.
Google+ is currently still in the testing phase following its launch last week, and users need to be invited by another Google+ member before they can sign up.
However, some of those Google+ invitations are fake, and their links direct traffic to an online business called Canadian Family Pharmacy, which sells Viagra, according to Sophos. Sophos said the emails, distributed by a Canadian hacking group called Partnerka, look authentic.
“The spammers are no doubt hoping that the email will be hard to resist, as many people are eager to see what is being billed as Google’s answer to Facebook,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, in a statement. “Research shows that last year alone, 36 million Americans bought drugs from online pharmacies, so this is a technique that is clearly continuing to work for spammers.”
Overall the scam is “amateur” in that it makes no attempt to use a site that looks like Google+ to harvest users’ personal information, Sophos said.
While Facebook doesn’t allow friends lists to be exported to Google+, an extension is now available for Google’s Chrome browser that allows users to export friends data in a format that can be imported into Google+.
Facebook has, however, begun modifying accounts to prevent the tool from working, according to Mohamed Mansour, who developed the Facebook Friend Exporter tool.
Google’s answer to Facebook
Google unveiled Google+ last week as its answer to Facebook, which has racked up some 700 million users in six-plus years.
Seizing on the market leader’s seemingly cavalier attitude toward user privacy, Google envisions Google+ as a more nuanced approach to social networking that tries to give users complete control over what content they share online and with whom they share it.
Available to users by invitation only for now, Google+ comprises four major components: Circles, Sparks, Hangouts and mobile, which includes instant photo and video uploads and group messaging.
Circles is a sharing service that lets users add circles, or groups of users united by common interests by dragging and dropping their profiles into a circle. Circles could include family, friends and colleagues.