Identity Theft Worm Hits Facebook

Dennis Faas's picture

How appropriate. Koobface, a sinister virus that attacks users with spyware and searches their system for sensitive passwords and credit card numbers, has now been found on Facebook, the super-popular social networking site.

Given that most readers of this column will either use Facebook today or know someone else who may, Koobface poses a daunting threat to the online community.

How does Koobface work?

According to reports, the virus spreads via messages sent between friends on the site.

When one user is infected, his or her account will send messages to friends like, "you just look awesome in this new movie!" or "they said some bad things about you. Click here to see them." Of course, most Facebook users can't help but want to find out exactly what these messages mean. Even those distant, grade nine friend-of-friends will make many users of the site click on to find out more about all the juicy gossip. (Source:

If users do click on the link, they'll be led to a site asking them to update to a newer version of Adobe's Flash player. Downloading that bogus software will instead infect the victim's computer with a nasty worm that searches out personal information that can help hackers steal identities. Of course, social security and credit card numbers, along with banking passwords, are gold mines.

Spokesman for Facebook Barry Schnitt denies rumors that the site may have already been hit hard by Koobface. "Only a very small percentage of Facebook users have been affected, and we're working quickly to update our security systems to minimize any further impact," he assured millions of worried users. (Source:

No one is yet certain who is behind Koobface, which first hit MySpace users over the course of last summer. Victims are located throughout the globe, making it tough to pinpoint a suspect, or suspects.

As usual, Facebook users are encouraged to remain vigilant in keeping a low profile (yeah, right) and be careful with the links (and "friends") they trust.

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