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Friday, December 5, 2008

Social Network users beware - Koobface Virus hits Facebook and Myspace

Attention new viewers: those 5000 "friends" you have on Facebook? They might not actually be your friends. In fact, some of them might be scammers trying to infect your computer with a new virus dubbed "Koobface".

Koobface, which already made the rounds on MySpace, is now worming its way through Facebook. The Koobface virus uses Facebook's private messaging system to infect computers via a shared video.

Unsuspecting users will see a video link (shared by an infected friend) with the message, "You look just awesome in this new movie." Click the link will lead you to an outside site where you're told that you need to download a Flash update, which is actually a virus file. Once the virus is installed, it will try to grab sensitive data off your PC, like credit card numbers.

In a way this a very old virus; it operates much like mass-mailing worms that used to infest Usenet and e-mail lists. But it's proving an effective tactic on social networks where private messages from friends seem more trustworthy than traditional e-mail, which even the most neophyte web users have come to distrust.

With its some 120 million users, Facebook is not only a potentially lucrative target, but it's well into the mainstream, which means more gullible, less internet-savvy users for virus creators to prey on.

The virus watchdog blog for McAfee labs reports that Facebook is aware of the Koobface attack and is already working to remove the spammed links from its system. But with dozens of Koobface variants known to exist, McAfee warns that "the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better."

In the mean time, the best way to avoid Koobface is to adhere to the tried and true rule of internet safety: never open unexpected e-mail attachments, videos or other links, even if they are from someone you know.

Should your PC be infected the Koobface worm, the Facebook security blog suggests resetting your password and running updated anti-virus software to purge the worm from your system.


Yesterday, reports started circulating about a virulent piece of worm spreading through Facebook. The malicious code isn't exactly new (it started surfacing in August), but has now been altered to strike social networking websites only and is currently making the rounds on Facebook pretty quickly, it seems. The virus can spread fast because they travel through messages which appear to come from your friends.

The Koobface messages carry subject lines like "You look so funny on our new video" or something similar, and contain a link to a video site that appears to contain a movie clip. If the user tries to watch it, a message appears saying that he or she needs the latest version of Flash Player in order to play the clip. This tricks users into downloading a file carrying the malware. An earlier version of the virus targeted MySpace users earlier this year but was quickly eliminated after new security measures were put in place.

Facebook only says on their Security page that users should use the latest antivirus software and change their password if they've been affected. The company also appears to be resetting passwords pro-actively and notifying users per e-mail about the possibility of having a virus on board. It's unclear how many of the social network's 120+ million users have been hit with the virus.

Best advice remains never to open unexpected e-mail attachments to reduce the risk of infection, even if they come from people you trust.

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