A group of security researchers based in Egypt have created a tool that will make social engineering easier because it automates the collection of hidden Facebook profile data that is otherwise only accessible to friends in a user's network.
The cross-platform, Java-based tool is called "Facebook Pwn" and is described by those who developed it as a "Facebook profile dumper."
"(The tool) sends friend requests to a list of Facebook profiles, and polls for the acceptance notification. Once the victim accepts the invitation, it dumps all their information, photos and friend list to a local folder," the description notes.
See also: Social engineering: The basics
In a typical scenario described by the researchers, the hacker starts by gathering information from a user profile by creating a new blank account.
Then, using what they call a "friending plugin" one can add all the friends of the victim. This will ensure you have some common friends with the victim, the researchers note.
Next, a cloning plugin asks you to choose one of the victims friends. Then, the cloning plugin clones only the display picture and the display name of the chosen friend of victim and sets it to the authenticated account.
Afterwards, a friend request is sent to the victim's account. The dumper polls, waiting for the friend to accept, the description explains. As soon as the victim accepts the friend request, the dumper starts to save all accessible HTML pages (info, images, tags,etc.) for offline examining.
"After a few minutes, probably the victim will unfriend the fake account after he/she figures out it's a fake, but probably it's too late!" the researchers explain in their post.
What the hacker will now have access to is a host of information that can then be used to execute a number of different social engineering attacks. For example, a victim is more likely to open a malicious email attachment used in a spear phishing attempt if it looks legitimate. The more personal details a criminal has at their disposal, the more convincing their attack can be.
[Also see: 5 tips to avoid getting phished]
The team responsible for the tool note on the project's Google code site that it was developed as a "proof of concept" and should be used at one's own risk and not be "abused," a request that will no doubt be heeded by hackers with malicious intentions everywhere.