Facebook invasion: Beware of new 'smart' worm

On the heels of a reported hijacking of hundreds of FB groups, an old worm's new variation is getting into the social network

Hot on the heels of a reported hijacking of hundreds of Facebook groups, a new variation on an old worm is crawling its way into the social network's walls. Attackers have released an updated, more intelligent version of the notorious Koobface virus, security analysts say--and anyone could become its next victim.

The Facebook Hijack

First, the hijacking: An organization called "Control Your Info" apparently took control of as many as 300 Facebook groups over the past several days. Members added their own logo onto the pages, announcing they'd "hijacked" the groups and providing a link back to their own site.

(Facebook maintains no confidential information was ever exposed--the affected groups, representatives say, were abandoned and open for any member to take over.)

The "Control Your Info" Web site states that the organization's mission was to expose security holes in social media--a fitting segue to today's new threat.

Facebook's New Concern

The new threat has a familiar name. Koobface--which, by the way, is an anagram of the word Facebook--first popped up in mid-2008 and has been pestering users ever since.

The worm typically works by taking over your PC, then sending messages or wall postings to your friends. The messages include links to what appear to be funny videos or risqué photos of people you and your friends know. Anyone who follows the links, however, will ultimately end up infected with the malware themselves--usually by way of a bogus software update that pops up on-screen.

The updated Koobface variation, according to the virus-fighting team at Trend Micro, takes things a step further by automating the entire process. Instead of depending solely upon real accounts to spread the malicious links, the attackers have found a way to have bots do their bidding.

Here's how Trend Micro says it's happening: Botnets are registering new Facebook accounts and confirming them via accompanying Gmail addresses, all without any human interaction. The zombie accounts are then joining Facebook groups, adding friends, and posting dangerous links onto those people's walls.

"This new component behaves like a regular Internet user that starts to connect with friends in Facebook," explains Jonell Baltazar, an advanced threats researcher with Trend Micro. "The details provided about the account are complete such as a photo, birth date, favorite music, and favorite books."

The system is even advanced enough to monitor maximum friend levels allowed by Facebook, Baltazar says, to avoid drawing any attention to the ill-intended account.

Facebook Protection

So, what can you do to keep yourself safe from this Koob-faced villain? The steps are nothing you haven't heard before: Keep your antivirus software up to date, and use some common sense.

Antivirus software will alert you if you click onto a site that's known to host malware -- and that's exactly where these Koobface links want to take you. The easiest way to stay safe, then, is just to be cautious in choosing what you click.

If you see a link that looks questionable, even if it's from someone whose name you know, don't follow it. And if you find yourself on a Web page that's asking you to download a software update, don't do it. Instead, close the window and go directly to the software vendor's own Web page to see if the update is the real deal.

Otherwise, you might end up with Koob smeared all over your face--and, suffice it to say, that's one fate you'd be better off avoiding.

JR Raphael is the co-founder of geek-humor site eSarcasm. You can keep up with him on Twitter: @jr_raphael.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Facebooksocial networking

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?