Feeds

Cockeyed 'Knob Face' confusion masks real malware threat

Obama viral vid hoax makes mischief

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Wrong-headed warnings about a worm spreading across Facebook are causing confusion about a real threat.

If you believe messages doing the rounds on the social networking site then a "Trojan worm" called "Knob Face", which poses as supposed footage of an outrageously unlikely affair between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, represents a severe information stealing threat.

Not so.

Rumours in the same messages that adding someone called 'smartgirl 15' as a contact will result in viral infection are also dead wrong.

Misconstrued warnings along these lines have become commonplace on Facebook over the last week or so, as a quick search of the social networking site illustrates.

Strains of sophisticated malware family called Koobface have menaced Facebook and members of other social networks for months. Prospective victims are typically encouraged to download malware disguised as a Flash update from a third-party website.

But the real malware - which is designed to promote scareware and make money from so-called click fraud (as explained here) - has nothing to do with either fictitious Obama affair video lures or smartgirl 15.

By warning about "Knob Face" (the wrong name), and including two inaccurate pointers to how you can identify the attack well-meaning users are doing more harm than good, net security firm Sophos notes. It advises that users should only share warning about viral threats after double checking them with credible sources, rather than just passing on attention-grabbing snippets without pausing to think.

Viral hoaxes have been a problem for years, creating an unnecessary distraction while spreading confusion and distracting from real threats.

"Virus hoaxes are actually harder to kill off than real viruses - unlike computer malware, hoaxes have spread not just via computers but by Ed Stewart repeating them on the radio, in the newspapers, and while having a chat down the pub," explained Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

"As social networks like Facebook are the new place to 'hang out and chat with your friends', they provide perfect conditions for hoaxes to spread at breakneck speed."

"Although no official research has been done on the subject, it is estimated that hoaxes can cost you even more than a genuine virus incident. After all, no anti-virus will detect hoaxes because they aren't viruses.

"Some companies panic when they receive a hoax virus warning and assume the worst." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.