A New Facebook Virus Steals Social Networking Messages and Passwords

By | May 22, 2012

Even midsize businesses must deal with social networking and the viruses that come along from users' private use. Midsize businesses that run social networking for SEO and marketing are susceptible to viruses, because they arrive as an email attachment and run a backdoor program on the user's computer. This technique exposes the midsize business' passwords and private data to the hacker, who can have the software send the data to a private server that only the hacker can access. The software is silent and runs in the background on the computer. The virus monitors user's messages and any Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Meebo, and WordPress activity. WordPress is especially dangerous, because the hacker can gain access to the company's private WordPress content.

How the Virus Spreads

GMA News announced a new Facebook virus that spreads through email. After the user double-clicks the .exe file named "Facebook," the virus runs in the background of the computer system. It monitors passwords and social networking accounts. After the accounts are acquired, the virus posts messages on the user's social networking accounts. The message includes a link to the Facebook virus file that other users can download.

Although monitoring social networking sites is not extremely harmful, the information collected by the virus can be sent to the hacker. This includes other passwords and accounts used for business purposes. For this reason, business owners should update virus definition files and educate users about the downfalls of opening random files attached in an email message.

Your Midsize Business and the New Facebook Virus

Businesses that rely on Facebook messaging, instant messages, and any other social networking within the marketing department must educate users about the virus. The virus is attached as a .zip file, and users might think that double-clicking the file type is safe. The ZIP file contains an executable that runs and infects the computer. The user is unaware of the installation, because the file runs in the background and goes unnoticed. Silent installs and programs that do not alert the user to a problem can run in the background for days before an antivirus program (or an IT admin) picks up on the issue.

The virus was first found by Trend Micro, but as the announcement ages, other antivirus companies will add the virus footprint to the definition files. Download the latest definition files and install them. If the antivirus finds the virus, clean the system, and reboot. IT personnel can also monitor social networking activity on the firewall, so users are protected from outgoing traffic even when the computer is silently infected.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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