"Friends like These": A WAFF 48 News special report - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

"Friends like These": A WAFF 48 News special report

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By Eric Sollman - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - At a time when the word "virus" throws up a red flag for your health, your safety on-line is also at risk.

A virus called koobface is making a comeback.

It first surfaced in August of 2008 and it's been working inside some of your favorite social networking sites ever since.

Using social networking sites like Facebook, is some-what of a "social" norm for teenagers like Brandi Seavers.

It's a way to keep up with her friends when she can't see them in person.

The key word is keeping up with her friends.

Brandi doesn't always accept friend requests or open messages.

"It has to be important, if it's not, it's usually rejected," said Seavers.

Brandi does find assurance in her closest on-line allies.

"Yes, because best friends you can usually trust," said Seavers. 

Trust that could now mean more trouble.

Enter the koobface virus. 

"Koobface takes advantage of the trust we have in each other," said Stefan Tanase, an internet expert with the Kaspersky Lab.

"Koobface is the first social networking worm," explained Tanase. 

It is a virus sending messages from an infected computer to all of a user's friends on sites like Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook.

So here's how it works.

You're sent a message on a social networking site that says it's from a friend.

There's even a picture by the message and there's some text that says something like, "Hey look at this video I found of you."

It may seem harmless and you may be curious, but this is where you need to be extra cautious.

Call it a cat and mouse game for hackers, but this virus sends more than just malicious intent. 

Of course they get your personal information.

The virus opens doors to hackers and your computer gets controlled by cyber criminals.

These crooks seek access to sell your passwords, credit card numbers, and log-in information. 

Information that some are already trying to keep out of the hands of hackers.

Not even koobface can stop Brandi, or the millions of other users on social networking sites. 

"I'm still going to do it," said Brandi. 

"I still have friends to talk to and stuff so you just want to watch out more," she continued. 

Simple steps to keep your on-line status safe. 

So what's the best advice to avoid infection?

The Kaspersky lab recommends getting an updated anti virus, or better yet an internet security program.

And always be skeptical of what you see on the internet.

©2009 WAFF. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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