Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Facebook profiles targeted by hackers

Facebook , the world’s largest online social networking site, has been the victim of five separate security problems over the last week, including a virus and four malicious applications.

Rascal application invites
The spiteful applications often work by posing as invites from friends asking Facebook users to sign up to an application. An example given is of an attempt to trick Facebook users by claiming that their friends were having trouble looking at their profile, and that they needed to add the application to solve the problem.

If the application is added it spams itself to every Facebook friend that a member of the site has in an attempt to steal saleable information from the profiles of those who open it up.

The BBC report gives comments from online security expert Rik Ferguson, senior security advisor at online security retailer Trend Micro. Mr Ferguson said that the way that Facebook is built can make it tricky for members to spot malicious or rogue applications, and that it was time for Facebook to review its policy of approving applications. Currently, it only vets them after they are offered to members and have been reported as causing problems.

Koobface virus
Facebook users have also been targeted in the last few days by a computer virus known as the Koobface virus, which originally hit MySpace and Facebook users in December 2008.
The latest version of the Koobface computer virus sends a Facebook message that appears to be from a friend to a Facebook user's profile. The message directs them to visit a webpage appearing to be on the YouTube website, where they are asked to download a piece of software or play a video.

The apparent YouTube web page is fake. If online users play the video or download the software, their computer becomes infected with a computer virus which searches for cookies on the victim's computer and uses the details it finds to enter other social networks the user is signed up to. The virus then searches for an infected computer user’s friends, who are then sent messages containing a link where a copy of the virus is downloaded.

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