Warnings are spreading on social media that caution social media users about a video clip of a Malaysian Airlines flight crashing into the sea, claiming it is a virus.
An example of the warning can be seen below.
Urgent attention: someone is spreading a video clip on a MAS (Malaysian Airlines) flight crashing into the sea. Please do not open it. Immediately delete it as it contains a virus. Especially those mobile phones who have mobile banking. Please forward this msg to others. It’s in the news also. Forward as received.
The warning loosely describes a threat from 2014 and has been spreading on social media since that time. However, as social media warnings often do, this warning has continued circulated long after the threat it describes has gone.
Such warnings initially spread across both Facebook and Twitter shortly after the downing of MH370 flight. At that time, scammers were indeed capitalising on that tragedy by tricking users into installing malware disguised as video updates to watch “leaked footage” of the flight crashing into the sea. Facebook was used to spread these links to such malicious websites that would send those who clicked them to websites that used these techniques to infect a victim’s computer. We discussed these scams here.
However these scams soon disappeared in 2015 but their warnings have outlived the threat. What’s more is that the warning above doesn’t describe any threat particularly well, since it fails to describe how the video is spreading or what to look out for (email attachments, social media links? Etc.) or what social engineering tricks are used to lure victims into infecting their computers. Warnings like this are often authored by people without any real knowledge of Internet security and often result in causing more confusion than anything else.
Yes, always look out for suspicious links and be wary of sites that ask you to install or download files to watch videos, but please don’t circulate vague or outdated messages like the one above as they don’t really help anyone.