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Malware worms its way further into social networks

Koobface continues to infect PCs of unsuspecting users through Facebook and MySpace.

A worm detected by security company Kaspersky Lab continues to thrive in social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.

In a little over two weeks, the Koobface worm that was first discovered on August 3, had six know variants.

That number escalated yesterday with reports that sixteen variants of the worm are now on the wild. It’s believed that the increase is an indication that the worm’s source code is now in circulation among certain malware authors or groups.

Social networking users become infected accessing a malicious URL present on homepages of trusted friends or contacts. It prompts installation of a video CODEC called codecsetup.exe that introduces the malware into the system.

Once the attacker is alerted to the new infection, additional malware can be downloaded to gain remote access to the machine. This exposes victims to online identity theft and seriously compromises confidential information stored on their machine.

While its distribution is still considered low, Ivor Rankin, practice manager of Operational Security Services at Symantec MENA warned that “due to the surging popularity of social networking sites globally, and the implicit trust often associated with such sites and their content, this current distribution trend could increase very rapidly.”

In response to the security threat, Rankin advises users to be wary of clicking on links from both known and unknown senders. For additional protection, users are also warned not to install mysterious social networking applications, keep their system patches up-to-date and enable an effective desktop firewall.