Social networkers face hacking threat

It's a growing problem for computer users, hackers, especially for people who use social networks.

Some estimates shows as many as 21 percent of Facebook users report being victims of malicious software, and one in 500 Twitter links point to malicious sites that will infect a computer.

Fulton's Bonnie Sherer was a victim.

"The letters were doubled so I should have noticed something was fishy," said Sherer. "It was just a bad movie."

Sherer remembers the hacking turned out to be much more. Without her knowledge the same link went out to all of her Facebook friends.


Computer expert Adam Fink has seen it before, he says it was probably the Koobface worm. He says the infected link may take you to a site that looks like YouTube but is a copy. When you click to install a program to play the video the worm starts its work.

"The worm unfortunately reads you cookie files from everything that you've browsed, finds specifically your Facebok friends names and info and will immediately post to their site the exact link you just clicked. The problem is it also installs spyware on your computer," said Fink who owns Missouri Forensics. He's a computer investigator of sorts working with police at times and with clients who need someone to look deeply into their computer usage and problems.

Fink says the infection may also send you to a look-alike site and when you log back into your Facebook account on the phony site your computer is hijacked.

"Say you're searching for GM cars and suddenly you are at a porn site, it's intercepted all of you HTTP: requests and is sending you to the traffic they want to send you to. The most common ones link to China and will steal your credit card information," said Fink.

He's also seen a couple new variations. One posts to your friends wall with the message "My ex-girlfriend of 2 years cheated on me. Here is my revenge!" another asks you to "Click 'da button, baby." Both send you to porn sites and Both worms try and get you to install their spyware payload with a setup.exe file download.

Another problem is a fake e-mail. It says it's from Facebook telling users to change their passwords. Fink says this one "opened the Trojan (called Bredolab), installs it's payload and the infected computer now becomes part of the Bredolab botnet allowing a remote user to gain full control over the system."


Fink says you'll know you're infected by the symptoms:

  • Your computer is slow to boot up or turn off
  • A common Google search sends you to a site you didn't want

    If you think your computer's infected Fink says do a security scan right away and then change your password for all your online accounts. To prevent more problems, change your Facebook settings to only allow friends to post on your wall, ask a friend before you click on a link they've sent, and don't accept a friend request from someone you don't know.

    Fink believes all computer users should install name brand spyware and virus protection and update once a week, update their operating system's software once a month and change passwords every 90 days. And remember never give personal information on an e-mail.

    Bonnie's happy her friends didn't blame her for spreading the virus, now she has just one message to spread.

    "Be careful what you open. If it looks wrong it probably is."

    Read the transcript from the Internet Safety Live Chat:

    LIVE CHAT: Internet Safety