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Social networking sites in the line of fire
Coimbatore, Aug. 17 Tracing one’s hostel mate or batch mate at school or college would have been a tedious task some years back, though not any more.

Today with social networking in place, it has become easier to trace one’s friends of yesteryears.

Incidentally, these social networks have become the prime targets of cyber criminals who can gather users’ personal information with ease.

The shift from desktop-based applications to Web-based ones, particularly those on social networking sites, presents a new vector for abuse.

Now, with social networking sites becoming dominant mediums, it is no surprise that Koobface — a type of malware and said to be the largest Web 2.0 botnet — rides this new means of propagation.

“Koobface is composed of various components, each with specific functionalities. While most malware cram their functionalities into one file, Koobface divides each capability into different files that work together to form Koobface botnet,” Mr Abhinav Karnwal, Product Marketing Manager (APEC), Trend Micro, explained to Business Line. Research findings by Trend Micro Labs show that Koobface works by taking control of social networking sites and spamming friends with messages containing links to sites that lead to malware traps.

“What started as a malware to propagate through Facebook and MySpace has now branched out to eight other social networking sites including Twitter, largely due to its modular design and update capability,” reports the Labs’ findings.“Components of the Koobface botnet owe their continued proliferation to link-sharing behaviour seen commonly on social networking sites.

A year has passed since the discovery of the first Koobface variant, but the malware is still going strong, extending its reach to other social networking sites and paving the way for a new generation of malware,” Mr Karnwal said.

Tips to keep children safe

• Set reasonable expectations about which sites they can visit, how much time they are allowed to spend online and what type of information they are allowed to post;

• Teach children about basic online safety guidelines, such as protecting their privacy (including passwords), avoiding in-person meetings with people they meet online and being careful about what they post;

• Support critical thinking and civil behaviour. Tell themt online bullying and harassment of peers is no different from direct abuse;

• Be aware of time spent online by keeping computers in shared areas of the house;

• Ask children to share their profiles and blogs with you;

• Set privacy settings to secure. Privacy settings within social networking sites allow children to control who can see their profiles and personal information;

• Advise children to never divulge personal information for cyber criminals can use personal information from social networking sites such as birth date, pets’ name, maiden names, school names — to hack into financial accounts and other online facilities;

• Keep software up-to-date. Download security software updates to combat the latest Web threats;

• Tell children to avoid clicking on unknown or suspicious links;

• Tell them to be smart while using mobile phones and never to share their number with strangers or post it anywhere on the Internet.

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Nice caution sign -:bad looking: especially warning for children
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