Feeds

Cockeyed 'Knob Face' confusion masks real malware threat

Obama viral vid hoax makes mischief

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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." ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.