The Dark Side of Social Networking - Viruses
No...I'm not talking about the viruses you can catch when you Socially Network in person.

If you're reading this, you're probably a web-savvy person. But even those that have a higher level of tech knowledge are getting hit by a seemingly innocuous threat...one which could spell great trouble if not avoided.

Several days ago, a very good friend of mine posted an item on my wall stating that she posted my profile pix on "Floatfaint-com". (You'll notice that I wrote a dash instead of a dot - that's because if it were a dot, it might show up as a link, and Facebook might detect it and try to remove the posting...also I don't want you to go there accidentally, because I care, dammit) Anyway, of course I wanted to check it out because I was curious. But once I got there, I was asked for my user name and password; a BIG NO-NO.

After checking around, I found a lot of my friends had the same problem. After doing some research I found out that there is a new wave of attacks by morally destitute hackers - this one was not as harmful as most, but is used to trick a person into submitting their email address and other information, presumably for the purpose of spamming. A blogger from the reputable security company Trend Micro found that the spammer owns several hundred domains, and is known to have links to cybercriminals. 

There are other dangerous attacks that are occurring...one of them in recent months is named the Koobface Virus, which hacks into a profile to gather personal information, and potentially turn a victim's computer into a Zombie attacking computer, takes your cc info, etc. etc.

I quickly informed my friend of the situation. She was smart to quickly change her password, and also notify all of her friends that any such posts are NOT from her.  Great job!

Here are five ways you can prevent a Social Networking Attack:

  1. Check the source - a new website, idea or fun application is not necessarily bad. But in line with Bill Gates' motto "Trust But Verify", make sure you find out where this thing comes from. If someone recommended a site to you, check with that person before installing anything or visiting the site. If you receive an email, look at the email address very closely to ensure it is from a reputable source. And before you install anything with a .exe extension, double and triple check the source!

  2. Protect your password like George Costanza - You remember that episode where he wouldn't give the password "Bosco" out to anyone...even his fiancee or a guy stuck in a burning ATM booth? That might be a bit extreme, but if your password or profile information is requested, be vewwwy vewwwy careful.

  3. Don't install tons of third party applications - Let's face(book) it, we allow a lot of apps to access our personal info. But how many of them do we actually use? I do use a few like Superpoke, Test Your IQ and What Superhero are you (I was Professor Xavier), but we don't have enough time to use all of them. Therefore I suggest that you keep your apps down to...um let's say 10. And make sure others have used them so you know they are safe

  4. Help your friends protect themselves - If you see something suspect on someone else's profile, let them know. If they don't respond right away you might want to even consider writing on their wall to ignore particular messages that may have been posted as a result of a hack. I did this when my friend did not respond right away, and I think she appreciated it. (If you don't hear from me in a week, it means she did not appreciate it, and she used a baseball bat to state her case).

  5. This one is pretty Captain Obvious, but make sure you have good anti-virus and anti-spyware protection. I recommend AVG or Norton for Antivirus, and Spybot as an AntiSpy. Also check out Comodo - a free firewall that I've used for the last year. It is a paranoid little program, but my PC has been safe thus far.
Some additional resources regarding the latest Facebook Information:
Hey everyone...Happy New Year. I know some of you out there are worried about the economy and the state of the world, but remember that success isn't just measured in dollars and cents. Care for your fellow human beings, and the rest will take care of itself. God Bless all of you in 2009 and beyond. "rockOn!"

Sincerely,

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488
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