A virus has swept across social networking site Facebook that sends malicious software into a user’s computer, potentially stealing personal information such as addresses and telephone numbers.
The “Koobface” virus, which originally appeared last year but has returned in a new format, hides itself in links to videos supposedly sent from profiles of users’ friends on the site.
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The new version creates a fake YouTube page when the link is opened, which advertises itself as having hidden camera footage of the user being targeted. The user is then asked to download an Adobe Flash Player update, which contains malicious software that is then installed on the user’s computer.
Whoever clicks on the video link sends the same link to every person on their friends list. Other recent viruses have included fake alerts from third party applications that claim a user’s friends are having problems viewing their profile, and must close the site down.
Facebook’s PR manager Caroline Simpson fell victim to the attack after being sent a video link in December.
“It told me I needed to update my Adobe Flash to see the video, but no video came up. I clicked it again and then closed down the computer. When I opened up the computer later that day I wasn’t able to access any files,” she told The Age.
“A pop-up said I had downloaded a virus and offered to sell me a package to remove it. We wasted about half a day or more removing the malware after trawling through the web and Facebook looking for instructions on how to get rid of it”.
Several Facebook users have created groups on the site warning others not to explore any suspicious links.
“Just got my computer back today from Computer Depot and they said I had a very bad virus from Facebook, it just about killed my system completely… so please be aware,” one user said.
“I have the virus on my laptop, and I can’t open up any programs sensibly or do anything really… all these virus scanners that come with the virus go crazy when I turn on my computer,” another commented.