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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 5:30 EDT

Hackers Targeting Social Networks With More Force

July 30, 2009

Internet criminals are being increasingly drawn to social networks like Facebook and MySpace due to the relative ease of gathering personal information.

Experts have warned of a virus known as Koobface, which has targeted users on Facebook and microblogging site Twitter.

Asier Martinez, a security specialist at global IT solutions provider Panda Security, told AFP that Koobface has “been very significant and it has been detected in 4,000 different variants.”

Koobface works by taking control of Facebook and Twitter accounts and spamming friends with messages containing links to sites that are equipped with malware traps.

A particular variant of Koobface tells users that they need to download an update to their Flash player. The download offered is actually a virus that infects users’ hard drive, allowing hackers to gain access to stored personal information.

“You also must be very careful with people who ask to join your friends list,” Laura Garcia, Internet blog security writer, told AFP.

The availability of third-party applications on Facebook is also a risk to users. The applications include quizzes, games and other tools that can disguise links to malware sites.

Earlier this month, a report from security firm Sophos found that about half of all companies in the United States block some or all access to them because of security concerns.

“Before it was very savvy teenagers who wanted to show off their computer skills. Now you don’t really need to know much about information technology to be a hacker, all the tools have already been created,” said Garcia.

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