To many, the Web is still “new.” Those who graduated post the Internet boom of the late 90’s had to play catch-up with the younger generation, learning how to roam the World Wide Web. While we’ve had over a decade to acclimate ourselves, many would still not label themselves as “tech savvy.” Unfortunately, such information and realities can be used against you.
The Koobface gang has used the popular social media platform, Facebook , and others, planting computer worms to unlawfully extract user information. In 2008, the roguish group began posting racy and humorous videos aimed at unsuspecting browsers. Clicked links lead to prompts, urging users to “update” their computer’s Flash player.
Unfortunately, what really happens is the installation of Koobface’s malware; computers are then drafted into a network of infected PCs, where Web searches are hijacked and information sold to equally-roguish advertisers. Additionally, Koobface made money from browsers who purchased their “security” software and advertisers who bought the ostensibly-legitimate consumer info.
What is frustrating for consumers, Facebook, and those who want the abuse of browsers to indefinitely end, is hazy and underdeveloped international laws related to the use and misuse of the “world-wide” Web. Facebook plans on spreading awareness about Koobface, under the assumption increased awareness will help safeguard the unsuspecting until better laws and methods of staying one-up on hackers come to fruition. To date, though the men behind the Koobface exhibit their facades in plain sight (they are believed to be residing in St. Petersburg, Russia), no official word from law enforcement agencies regarding the pursuit of the group has been released.
Just how “real” is such roguish behavior? How rampant is hacking and misuse? Symantec, a security software maker, estimates consumers are swindled over $114 billion annually by unscrupulous-Web-related behavior.
Facebook and other bastions of proper Web usage, attempted to put a stop to the Koobface, establishing solid defenses to ward computer worms; in March, the Koobface abandoned Facebook, after intense endeavors to dismantle the former’s command-and-control system were set in place.
However, Koobface is not so easy to “de-friend”; take down efforts have failed to ultimately put the kibosh on the ‘Koobface Gang.’ At present, users still need to proceed browsing with caution. However, the passion and available technology of the ‘good guys’ is also unwavering.
Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Facebook, warns the Koobface and their friends against their eventual transparency: “People who engage in this type of stuff need to know that their name and real identity are going to come out eventually and they’re going to get arrested and they’re going to be targeted; people are fighting back.”