TIPS FROM THE TECH ROOM volume 3
When was the last time you were surfing your Facebook, MySpace, hi5, Bebo, Friendster, or Twitter social networking account? Was it this morning, a few hours ago, or are you on it right now, checking your CafeWorld to make sure your "virtual souffle" doesn't burn?
If you have been roaming your social networking plains lately, maybe this message sounds familiar:
"You look just awesome in this new movie!" Or perhaps you've seen this message:
"I have this funny video of you dancing. Your face is so red. You should check it out!"
If you HAVE already succumbed to your curiosity, proceeded to open the video, and downloaded the latest Flash player (aka Koobface), we strongly recommend cleaning your system with a reputable virus remover and/or contacting a reputable IT consultant company (hint-hint).
First of all, let's educate our computer illiterate readers:
Koobface [kub-feys] -noun
- a computer worm that targets the users of various social networking websites.
- an anagram of Facebook.
Koobface is malicious software, but not a virus. Although the term computer virus is used as a catch-all for most types of spyware, they are not the same. A virus is a computer program that can copy, attach itself, and ultimately infect a computer by corrupting files. On the other hand, Koobface is a worm. A worm is a malware (short for MALicious softWARE) that sneaks onto your computer and replicates itself. Once the worm has made your computer it's new home, it can even send automated emails to other computers to replicate itself from your machine (sound familiar again?). Also it can ensure its livelihood, by commandeering your computer's search engine use and directing it to more contaminated websites.
While "the koob" has only recently become a major malware epidemic, Koobface was actually first detected around December 2008. After it infects your computer, it continues to spread by delivering Facebook messages to all the people that are "your friends on Facebook". Unlike a virus, a worm does not need to attach itself to an existing program. It literally is an illegitimate file that is posing a useful program. Worms almost always cause at least some harm to the network by causing low bandwidth and making your computer run slowly. Particularly this type of worm, if successful, gathers sensitive information from its victims such as credit card numbers.
So, for those of you that have NOT opened the koobface link, but are leery about unidentified messages such as these, these next tips from the tech room will help keep this nasty invader from your computer:
- Beware fraudulent emails. This is typically the most frequently used avenue of this worm. Never click links in messages received unexpectedly and never, ever login to any site as a result of clicking a link in a message. Most reliable virus scanners have a "scan file for viruses" feature, so if you are suspicious about a particular link, try right-clicking and scanning the file first.
- Change your password. Facebook has recently advised all their users to change their passwords. Microsoft deems a good password as one that has 7 or more characters, one being capital, one being a number, and one being an accepted symbol. They also do not recommend using the names of your pets, parents, your own name, birthdate, SS#, phone #, etc.
- Log out when not using the social networking site. Worms like Koobface can only spread when you are logged in, so staying logged off when not in use, will help minimize the threat of spreading.
- Avoid promiscuous friending. Spammers, phishers, and worm distributors prey on social networking sites. Do your research and don't befriend every stranger that comments on your page.
Until next time, keep surfing the internet safely and wisely.