Feeds

Cockeyed 'Knob Face' confusion masks real malware threat

Obama viral vid hoax makes mischief

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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." ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.