A virus that hit Facebook hard in 2009 is unfortunately back: the Koobface virus. Koobface, (an anagram of 'Facebook') infected computers will send a message to the user's Facebook friends suggesting a video or website to click on. Once clicked, the virus infects that computer and sends itself to that user's Facebook friend list. To make matters worse, Koobface is also now turning up on Twitter.
Also in 2009, many Facebook users were sent messages containing links to an application which would reveal who their top Facebook friends were. Rumors quickly spread that the application was a virus, dubbed the “Facebook Fan Check Virus”. Shortly after, numerous fixes and virus removal tools cropped up that allegedly removed the Fan Check virus. After an investigation by Facebook, it was determined that the Fan Check application was not a virus, but almost all of the applications to remove it were.
To protect yourself these and other malicious social media viruses, take the following precautions:
1. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date and functioning properly. Most anti-virus programs are updated almost continuously in response to new viruses and spyware. Having a current anti-virus program is essential to staying protected.
2. Use the latest version of whatever web browser you prefer. Like the anti-virus software above, new versions of a web browser will roll out in response to a known vulnerability. If there is a more recent version of your preferred web browser, use it.
3. Don't click on links from 'friends' if the content or wording doesn't seem like something that friend would send. Almost all of the malware that infects social media sites replicate themselves by sending themselves out through the user’s address book. So even though the message may indeed be from your friend’s account, it may not be from your friend at all.
The good news is that Twitter is now scanning for viruses and browsers are using new tools to check URL's against those on a black list which will prevent redirecting users to fake and unsafe sites. Facebook also has its own Security Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/security) where followers can learn about the latest in social media safety.
Don McCombie is the owner of NoWorriesIT.Net, a network support and security company located in Westminster, MD. Don has been keeping business networks safe from viruses, spyware and hackers for over 15 years. He can be reached at 410.751.7650, or visit the website at www.noworriesit.net.