Facebook can be fun, but safety comes first!

June 21, 2009

Written by wukovits

Facebook is pretty neat – you can find old friends, share pictures with these friends, play addictive games with said friends, or take nonsensical quizzes and compare the results with the same friends.  One thing that can be not-so-neat about Facebook is catching a virus sent by a friend, especially when they didn’t mean to send it.

Getting something in your Facebook inbox is usually pretty harmless, like an innocuous message from a friend sharing a funny video.  Beware, you may be exposing yourself to the “Koobface” virus, which comes through an e-mail sent by one of your Facebook friends inviting you to view a video.  Once you click on the link, you’ll be told that you need to update your Flash player to view it, which is where Koobface installs onto your PC.  When “Koobface” infects your computer, it prompts a downloaded service named Security Accounts Manager (SamSs) to load when your computer starts up.  SamSs then routes all your websites to a different place, stealing results from popular search engines and hijacking them to lesser-known search sites.

This is more of a nuisance than anything and Facebook has a page dedicated to resolving these types of problems (https://www.facebook.com/security).  The first thing you should do is to reset your Facebook password immediately, either on the Account Settings page or just click “Forgot Your Password” link on the login page.  The second thing you’ll need to do is scan for viruses and malware.  There are a number of these utilities out there and everyone has their own preference.  That’s a separate article in itself, so just use what you have, or get something free, like AVG for antivirus, and Spybot for malware.  You might even find a bunch of stuff on your computer that you didn’t even know was there.

Of course, Mac users are less prone to get this virus, as any installation on the Mac OS requires you to enter your system password.  Windows Vista users are also better protected than those using Windows XP, thanks to User Access Control.  While some find it annoying, having an extra layer of security when evildoers are attempting to take control of your PC and your accounts can be a good thing.

More recently, there are some new attempts at suckering users into revealing their login and passwords, otherwise known as “phishing” attacks.  One such attack is looking to sucker you out of your Facebook information by sending a message to your inbox.  If you receive a Facebook mail with links to “.be” sites, don’t click these links.  The subject line of the mails is “Look at This”.  Some of the domains for the links are “goldbase.be”, “greenbuddy.be”, “silvertag.be”, and “picoband.be”.  In fact, just avoid any links that end in .be.  Unless you are looking for a business in Belgium, or have an pressing desire for Belgian chocolates, let’s just avoid those to be safe.  Another one uses “Areps.at”, but the result is the same – you arrive at a page that looks like a Facebook login page, and are prompted to enter your login and password.  This, of course, will result in your Facebook account being hijacked, and your friends won’t be too happy when the messages start coming from your account.

Facebook can be a lot of fun, but be careful and be aware.  Just like anything in life that can be called fun, safety always comes first.

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