Saturday, 7 March 2009

Virus-avoidance advice

There has been a great deal of news and rumour recently about a new virus or worm targeting users of FarceBook, MurdochSpace, and the other one. Normally not the sort of thing that would find its way to these pages, as it seems to be a completely genuine danger and not in any way fraudulent. What prompted this blog post, however, was the public reaction to the news; I know of people who have decided to not use the networking sites at all while this thing persists. Not an unreasonable precaution, but why deny yourself the distractions of social networking if it's not necessary? And according to the details of this case, it's really not.

As with most digital viruses, the best advice for avoiding infection seems to be "don't be a moron"; though it does appear that this worm is more sneaky than most. It's also not new - it's been around since at least December, when there was a big news event on the subject - see articles from The Guardian, PC World, BBC News, The Huffington Post and Reuters.

This virus, known as "Koobface" can be avoided by simply knowing the way in which it operates. The best source for this information seems to be the video here, the summary of which is that the virus works through sending messages from infected accounts to friends of that account. The message comprises of a link to a video, ostensibly on YouTube, and a phrase or two suggesting that the target is featured in that video. Now listen carefully to the next part, because it's the one thing you should remember about the Koobface virus:

The only way it can infect your account or computer is if you click that link and then install what it requests that you install.

So the obvious advice is: don't do that.

Knowing how these individual virii operate is the key to avoiding them - besides good old common sense, anyway. If you get a link to a video with a message suggesting you're in it, don't follow the link, delete the message. If in doubt, ask your friend if the message is genuine. There is no evidence to suggest that the virus is so clever as to be able to respond to such an inquiry.

1 comment:

Janus said...

Shouldn't have warned us mate. Let the facebook addicts burn to the ground.
[insert deranged rant]